ISO New England Inc. (ISO-NE) and six New England powertransmission companies filed today a joint petition yesterday withFERC for a declaratory order to form the New England RegionalTransmission Organization (NERTO). Under the plan, which was inresponse FERC Order 2000, ISO-NE, Bangor Hydro-Electric, CentralMaine Power, National Grid USA, Northeast Utilities, The UnitedIlluminating Company, and Vermont Electric Power propose a RegionalTransmission Organization (RTO) consisting of two entities workingin concert: (1) a new independent transmission company, NortheastIndependent Transmission Company, LLC (NE ITC); and (2) anindependent system operator (ISO). Like ISO-NE, the NE ITC will besubject to FERC regulations. Under the plan, ISO-NE will be thesystem operator for the New England control area, administer thewholesale markets in the region, and provide most ancillaryservices through its tariff. ISO-NE has proposed that the NewEngland Power Pool (NEPOOL) have a continuing role, albeitmodified, in the development and modification of the rules for theNew England markets and with respect to related agreements, andthat immediate steps be taken to increase conformance of the NewEngland and New York markets.

In response to the recent turmoil involving outrageous naturalgas prices this winter, Nicor Gas submitted its intentions thisweek to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to institute apermanent 12-month budget plan that would allow its customers theopportunity to manage the effects of the high gas costs. The planwould allow Nicor Gas customers to defer their higher winter billsand spread the costs over the course of the entire year. Nicor Gassaid it expects to file the details of the payment program with theICC on or before the first of February. The utility in relatedaction also raised the eligibility of its Sharing program up to200% of the poverty level to help customers with trouble payinghome heating gas bills. The company said it has twice raised theamount of each individual sharing grant — a one time grant tohelp customers pay their gas bills in the current heating season— from $200 to $325. Nicor completed the increase of the Sharingprogram in the wake of last week’s action by the Illinois GeneralAssembly raising the eligibility for the Low Income Home EnergyAssistance Program (LIHEAP) to 150% of the poverty level. The newlevel is a 25% increase from the previous level, and is the maximumallowed under the federal-state program.

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