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GISB Gathering Narrows Issues on Retail Standards

GISB Gathering Narrows Issues on Retail Standards

The public meeting held by the Gas Industry Standards Board (GISB) last week to determine whether it should develop standards for retail gas and power, as well as wholesale power, was short on solutions but big on questions.

A key question was whether GISB should be the organization to develop such standards. "Some believe they [Edison Electric Institute] should do it. This will be a big issue if we decide to move forward" with the retail standards, said David Pfeifer, a former member of GISB's executive committee who was at the meeting in Washington D.C.

At the same time, GISB "was very favorably positioned [to set the standards] because of its proven track record," noted Pfeifer, who is senior manager of the energy group for Akili, a consulting business.

Another central issue was the type of standards to be developed. Based on "my impression from the questions asked and the comments made.....I don't think there was opposition to the standards themselves. No one came out and actually said 'we don't need the standards.' But the general consensus was what do we mean by standards," he said. Should they focus on electronic commerce, business processing or transactions?

"The question again is in the details - how, who, what and when." If GISB is selected to develop the standards, will it then become the EISB for the Energy Industry Standards Board, he asked. GISB, whose principal focus has been on setting standards for wholesale gas, will undergo a "big cultural change" if it's picked to do power standards as well. This would require a change in its certificate and bylaws, not to mention a bigger budget.

A GISB task force will deliver a report to the board of directors at a March 2 meeting that will "determine whether GISB needs to be involved in this and, if so, how," said Rae McQuade, executive director of the group.

The Coalition for Uniform Business Rules, a group of mostly energy marketers, called on GISB last year to develop and maintain retail gas/electric standards. GISB expanded the scope of the coalition's request to include standards for the wholesale power market as well. Susan Parker

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