ATTENDED ANY HEARINGS LATELY AT THE FEDERAL ENERGY Regulatory Commission? They're getting ugly. I see a federal agency under siege (em from without and from within.
The Commission seems to have lost the easy confidence that reigned during Elizabeth Moler's tenure. Don't blame new Chairman James Hoecker. He's getting it from all sides, and it's not his fault.
Consider the bottomless pit known as electric system "reliability." We need new laws to pin down FERC authority. The bullet points released three weeks ago by the Clinton Administration would spell out FERC's role over a new self-regulating reliability organization. That idea mirrors the white paper issued in December by the Blue Ribbon Panel at the North American Reliability Council: to reform NERC as NAERO (North American Electric Reliability Organization), a self-regulating industry group authorized by Congress, subject to FERC review.
In fact, Hoecker appears willing to stand back and give some room to the NERC, so that it, like Gorbachev and communism, can "reform from within." But not everyone agrees. (Remember Perestoika?) Nearly 50 utilities, marketers, individuals and industry groups have filed comments on the NERC plan. (See, www.nerc.com/~blue/view-comments.html.)