New CAISO Board Does Simple Things First

By Published On: April 2, 2005

Getting its new board members? and chief executive officer?s feet wet in tepid, noncontroversial matters—before jumping into what may be a summertime of boiling waters caused by supply shortages in Southern California and attendant shark-infested political recriminations—the California Independent System Operator board voted on only two minor issues March 31. The board decided to fulfill a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission demand to file a tariff with the commission allowing generators to self-supply energy. The new tariff attempts to ?clarify the definition of self-supplied station power and who can participate? in the process, according to Eric Leuze, CAISO director of compliance. If this tariff is adopted, generators can use power generated from their plants and avoid having to buy juice in the retail market. The new board, much like the former one, expressed dissatisfaction with FERC?s orders. They were concerned that the filing was driven by the free market, with little concern for the state grid. Ken Wiseman wrapped up the vote, saying, ?Unanimous?kicking and screaming, and reluctant.? The new board, including members Elizabeth Lowe and Mason Willrich, also agreed to clarify the flow of committees. In nonvoting issues, the board said it wanted to continue to try to stave off defections from the CAISO grid. The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts are making rumblings that they may follow in the footsteps of the Western Power Administration, which defected to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. ?Balkanization within control areas is not good for reliability and not good for the market,? said Yakout Mansour, CAISO chief executive officer. While staff are getting the relatively new board members up to date on current issues, it appears that the single most important issue is getting through this summer without blackouts in the southern part of the state. Ron Calvert, CAISO manager, loads and resources, explained that as long as the weather this summer is only as severe as it is an average of every other year, there should not be too much of a blackout potential. However, he warned that if it turns into a 1-in-10 year heat wave, with resultant drag on supplies from increased air conditioning, there would be up to a 1,700 MW deficiency in Southern California.

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