The Western Area Power Administration (Western) pulled its transmission system from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) December 31 and submitted its control to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. While neither Western nor CAISO reported physical problems with the changeover, software issues are still being resolved. Western?s customers are no longer receiving the fixed amounts of capacity and energy that they were under the previous regime. At the same time CAISO lost control of Western?s transmission lines, it gained control of Pasadena?s system. ?The economies of scale are still there,? said Jim Detmers, CAISO vice president of grid operations. Adjusting for the change in transmission control, Detmers noted, December 2004 showed a 6 percent increase in load growth over the previous year. In addition, he pointed to the expanding role of the grid operator as new renewables and other new utility power supplies come on line as a result of regulatory requirements. Western decided to make the switch after publicly discussing the issue because it allows the agency to make changes on a contract level instead of having tariffs imposed by CAISO, according to Dave Christy, Western spokesperson. He added that the agency was also concerned about future cost escalation. With Western leaving the CAISO control area, grid operator spokesperson Gregg Fishman said cumulative comings and goings are about a ?wash? over the last few years. While SMUD and Western are gone, CAISO gained Pasadena on January 1, as well as Path 15 owner TransElect last year. The Northern California Power Administration and six munis also are under CAISO?s wing. Although the physical changeover was said to have gone well, it added complications to the grid. Detmers said that new interfaces between Western and CAISO had to be defined and now redundant staff are needed to maintain dual control areas. According to Western, its problems were mostly confined to pinning down software glitches, and the agency will have a clearer picture when the first round of bills goes out in February. With the change?sparked by the expiration of Western?s long-term contract with Pacific Gas & Electric for transmission support and sales?its 47 customers will not receive the energy and capacity routinely provided in the past. Christy said that under the Western-PG&E contract, customers received power as part of the utility?s portfolio. For instance, in January 2000, Western delivered 800 GWh?about one-seventh of its yearly total of power deliveries that year. This January, Western?s hydroelectric turbines are not running, saving up the power for summer, and customers are not getting any deliveries. At the onset of deregulation, CAISO was formed to take over control, but not ownership, of the state?s investor-owned utilities. The state did not, and could not, require munis to join. The original concept, however, was to have one statewide transmission controller in order to eliminate problems of exchanging power from one service territory to another. While gaining efficiencies of scale, the grid operator has come under attack for its complicated and ever-changing rules, its ineffectiveness in stanching the energy crisis, and its inability to please its users?although the latter view appears to be softening. Even though some transmission owners want to have their autonomy and insist that it come at no cost to their customers, Detmers said CAISO would still welcome them back if they changed their minds.