MIT professor Paul Joskow asks the FERC how its rulemaking will help consumers.
By Aug. 23, the electric industry had filed over 150 separate comments - nearly 4,000 pages - telling the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission what it thinks about regional transmission organizations.
All other stories pale in comparison. The commission's proposed rulemaking on RTOs would reinvent the electric transmission business. The case gives economists a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to instruct a government agency how to design and build a market from the ground up. For utilities (and state regulators, too) it's life or death. The transmission business marks the only thing left that utilities can still call their own. And even if the wires stay regulated, the FERC will capture most of that turf from the state public utility commissions, which hardly knew what to do with it anyway.
WHO'S FILING COMMENTS? WHO'S SAYING WHAT? If you take a moment to look, you'll see the usual suspects (ELCON, EPRI, NERC and NARUC), but also some new faces, such as the New York, New England, Midwest and PJM independent system operators, and even the Arizona Independent Scheduling Administrator. At least half the state PUCs offered opinions, with nine PUCs from the Midwest joining on one comment. Throw in some local color (the cities of Anaheim, Calif.;Tallahassee, Fla.; and Cleveland each filed - don't ask me why) plus some earnest individuals (Eric Hirst, Mark Lively, Hyde Merrill), and you've got a fairly wide swath of opinion. Enron and Con Ed were strangely silent, but NYMEX and The Fertilizer Institute each weighed in. Go figure.