The California Independent System Operator claims that an April 1, 2009, go-live date for its new wholesale electricity market is possible. The announcement came December 16. The often-delayed start up of the so-called Market Redesign & Technology Upgrade still hangs on the ability of the computer system to handle prices and post-bid settlements, according to utilities. Computer runs of market simulations have been inconclusive, according to those involved. \u201cApril 1 is as far as you can go without major delays,\u201d said Mason Willrich, grid operator chair. \u201cBeyond April 1, I get real nervous.\u201d CAISO\u2019s wholesale market, as it is today, accounts for about 2 to 3 percent of electricity trades, and also handles bids for other services, such as voltage support. The proposed market also would allow for day-ahead bidding to set prices. That could greatly expand its use, stakeholders say. Southern California Edison\u2019s representative said the April go-live date is \u201cfeasible.\u201d Pedro Pizarro, Edison executive vice president, power operations, added that the utility\u2019s customers are paying $1 million\/month for each month the go-live date is delayed. Dede Hapner, Pacific Gas & Electric vice president of CAISO relations, said, \u201cThe jury\u2019s still out on the April date.\u201d San Diego Gas & Electric\u2019s representative also demurred about relying on an April launch date. The process of utilities\u2019 ability to absorb the new market into their business plans is \u201clike a snake eating a hamster,\u201d according to Pizarro. He added, \u201cIt has to work its way through the snake.\u201d The \u201chamsters,\u201d in Pizarro\u2019s metaphor, are Edison\u2019s various vendors and subcontractors that are expected to work with the utility to pave the way for its involvement in the new market. In order for the new market to go into effect, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has to approve it. CAISO set a January 16, 2009, date for filing the market proposal with federal regulators. In other grid operator news, it appears that the cost of sending energy over transmission lines controlled by CAISO is rising. The increase in the operator\u2019s grid management charge is expected to go from 75.5 cents\/MWh to 77 cents\/MWh, according to CAISO chief executive officer Yakout Mansour. The cost is rising because use of the grid is dropping, resulting in a smaller base upon which to spread the charges. The decline in usage is attributed partially to the recession and mild weather. CAISO anticipates a reduction in transmission use by 2 percent based on current use, according to Phil Leiber, CAISO chief financial officer. While staff raised red flags about reduced use, grid operator board member Laura Doll noted that the state is striving to decrease electricity use. In response to other fallout from the market decline, CAISO decreased its traders\u2019 unsecured credit from $250 million to $150 million. On December 17, the second day of the board\u2019s end-of-year meeting, Leiber called the $250 million amount allowed for its traders \u201cexcessive.\u201d Traders, however, saw the change in a different light. They questioned the move to decrease credit at the same time the grid operator plans to launch a new market in which those entities are expected to trade. They claimed that without more credit latitude, the grid operator was setting up hurdles to participate in its new market. There\u2019s more financial risk with new markets, according to Ali Yazdi, Powerex director of California and Southwest portfolios. Other stakeholders agreed with the increased risk scenario--enough that they may stay out of the new market. In a bit of a compromise, the board agreed to the reduced credit allowance, but at the same time said the grid operator would accelerate settlement payments for transactions. In other words, when traders make or lose money in the new market, they would not have to wait for months to see a true up of their wins and losses.