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Commonwealth Ed's Hook-Up Proposal Wins Raves

Commonwealth Ed's Hook-Up Proposal Wins Raves

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week endorsed a customer-friendly interconnction plan by Commonwealth Edison, calling it "another critical step" toward getting new merchant power plants on the transmission grid.

The Commission approved, with a few changes, ComEd's first-of-its-kind proposal in which an Illinois utility sought to amend its open-access tariff to establish standardized procedures for requesting interconnection services on its system and the criteria by which requests would be evaluated [ER00-1820].

Commonwealth Edison's amended tariff specifically will provide potential customers with information on how priority in the queue for interconnections will be determined and the time frame in which studies will be completed and final decisions made.

"This is another critical step along the road to a more rational pro-competitive policy" in the electric industry, said Commissioner William Massey, who is spearheading an effort at the Commission to provide greater access to the transmission grid for new power generators.

"I wholeheartedly endorse this call and ask [other] transmission providers to heed it. It's a call to take down another of the obstacles to letting markets work."

Many in the power industry seek a more standardized interconnection process for all utilities to follow, Massey noted. "These suggestions certainly have a lot of appeal to me.....The Commission should move in these directions. But for today I'm satisfied with our explicit encouragement [for] utilities to amend their tariffs as Commonwealth Edison has done."

For Chairman James Hoecker, the filing marks an important turning point. "I believe this filing reflects a subtle but very important change in the way transmission owners view the merchant generation, that is as customers. What a concept."

ComEd also has submitted an expanded interconnection policy that will facilitate siting in northern Illinois, and has posted on its Web site the preferred locations for new generation in the state, he said. This "takes a lot of the mystery out of the process of siting and of market entry by showing where new generation can be accommodated without necessarily expanding the existing transmission facility. I really like these customer-friendly innovations, as do my colleagues."

Susan Parker

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