QUESTION: WHAT DO JOHN ANDERSON (ELCON),
Karl Stahlkopf (EPRI) and Matthew Holden (former commissioner at the FERC) have in common that may affect the course of electric restructuring?
Answer: Each belongs to Phil Sharp's task force on electric system reliability, and each embodies a different set of needs and aspirations, making it quite unlikely that we'll see agreement any time soon on what Congress or the Clinton Administration should do to reform the system.
Former Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary announced the Task Force on Electric System Reliability last year. Led by former U.S. Sen. Phil Sharp (who steered the Energy Policy Act to final passage back in 1992), the task force exists to advise the DOE on how to maintain reliability in a more competitive electric industry. Today the jury is still out on whether the task force will come to anything.
The DOE asked Phil Sharp to examine reliability in three dimensions: technical, institutional and policy issues. That three-way charge now inhibits progress.
When I left the sixth meeting of the task force, which ran for six hours on Nov. 6 in Washington, D.C., I came away with the impression that the members had inadvertently formed three factions, each with its own agenda.
Technocrats, Advocates and Wonks
First come the technocrats. Think of them as preservationists. They include experts in transmission and distribution technology, such as Stahlkopf (Ph.D., engineering and vice president of the power delivery group at the electric Power Research Institute), and Jose Manuel Delgado (M.S., electric engineering and director of electric system operations at Wisconsin Electric).