EARLIER IN THIS DECADE, FERC CHAIRMAN MARTIN ALLDAY delivered his famous quote: "Everybody is somebody's native load customer."
Today, that truism has fallen under attack. It could go out the window if power marketers get their wish. One group of marketers has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to open a new rulemaking on electric system reliability. This group proposes to end the notion of transmission responding to load. Instead, they want energy suppliers and consumers to purchase reliability: "The very concepts of load server and native load are anachronisms that should be replaced with the nomenclature of markets: seller and buyer."
Meanwhile, the North American Reliability Council is going in the opposite direction. In its efforts to reform from within, NERC sees the problem as one of converting voluntary compliance to mandatory enforcement. That means legitimizing a system of top-down sanctions (i.e., a new independent organization with open governance and government supervision). Like solving an engineering puzzle, experts would decide what the grid can accommodate and enforce their decisions through curtailments.
The Power Marketer Coalition
On March 25, the same day that Energy Secretary Peña announced the Clinton Administration's bullet points for new federal legislation for electric restructuring, a group of power marketers filed their petition at the FERC. They invited the Commission to open a new docket that could prove as complex as Order 888.
The coalition of power marketers is a diverse group. (See notes following sidebar, "Favoring Commerce: The Grid for Sale?") It includes ELCON, the Electric Consumers Resource Council. Its petition follows on the heels of a complex series of events at the FERC.