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
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
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.
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