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GISB's Leap into Retail Standards Put on Ice

GISB's Leap into Retail Standards Put on Ice

The blizzard that blanketed the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast last week forced the cancellation of a major meeting that was called to consider whether the Gas Industry Standards Board (GISB) should expand its reach to develop national standards not only for the retail gas market, but for the retail and wholesale power markets.

The meeting, which was to have been attended by about 200 energy-related officials, was scheduled for last Wednesday at the Department of Energy's (DOE) headquarters in Washington D.C., but it was scrubbed when the snow caused the closing of the federal government. "We are working with the DOE to reschedule the meeting" possibly for sometime within the next two weeks, said Rae McQuade, GISB's executive director.

"We didn't know until 10 p.m. [Tuesday] night" that the federal government would be closed the following day, she noted. "We did everything we could to notify people" by e-mail of this, she said, but some were already on their way to Washington.

The meeting was scheduled to address whether GISB, whose principal focus has been on developing standards for wholesale gas, should branch out into retail gas, and retail and wholesale electricity. This proposed change "could have momentous implications on the future course of GISB" because it would require the standards-setting organization to make the leap into electricity, a task force told GISB's board of directors in November.

The GISB task force was formed when the Coalition for Uniform Business Rules (CUBR), a group of mostly energy marketers, beckoned GISB to develop and maintain retail gas/electric standards. GISB expanded the scope of the coalition's request to include the wholesale power market as well. Although retail gas standards "are within our scope," the task force cautioned that the development of power standards would require changes in GISB's certificate and bylaws, as well as the make-up of its board and executive committee.

Additionally, the task force said such a move would require a hefty increase in the $875,000 that the group has budgeted for 2000. Just to take on the additional task of establishing standards for retail gas would require a 43% annual increase of $375,000, it noted. A 60% ($525,000) increase would be needed to tackle retail standards for both gas and electricity.

Susan Parker

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