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Western “Seams” group creates new forum for working on common electricity policy issues

PHOENIX, Dec. 6, 2002 — The West is on its way to creating a “seamless” western power market that makes the best use of generating and transmission resources throughout the region.

A Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation (MOU) was signed Thursday, December 05, 2002, by potential regional transmission organizations RTO West (in the Northwest), WestConnect (in the Southwest), and the California Independent System Operator (California ISO).

“The Seams Steering Group-Western Interconnection (SSG-WI) is a forum designed to resolve commercial and operational electricity policy issues that are common to the West as a whole,” said SSG-WI Chair Bud Krogh.

“All entities in the West must continue to further operational and market coordination to ensure reliable system operation and reduce costs to end use customers,” said Elena Schmid, California ISO’s VP of Corporate & Strategic Development and the ISO’s representative to SSG-WI.

The MOU provides a framework for cooperation among and between the three developing RTOs. SSG-WI states that consensus positions are developed, and then recommended to the governing boards of the respective organizations, which have final decision-making authority.

“Part of the purpose of SSG-WI is to identify opportunities for shared infrastructure and systems investment/development that benefits all consumers in the West,” added RTO West SSG-WI representative Yakout Mansour.

SSG-WI has created a number of working groups to identify solutions to common problems associated with power grid efficiency. The FERC has directed each of the three regional entities to formally commit to participating in the working groups and has empowered SSG-WI as the forum for resolving “seams” issues in the West. Currently there are five working groups examining electricity issues:

* Market Monitoring
* Common Systems Interface
* Transmission Planning and Expansion
* Congestion Management
* Price Reciprocity (addressing export fees between RTOs)

Each of the working groups is open to any stakeholder and, as they reach consensus, the working groups bring their recommendations to SSG-WI for discussion before taking the final recommendation to their respective Boards.

SSG-WI representative and WestConnect Project Manager Charlie Reinhold explained, “Part of SSG-WI’s mission is to engender discussion among various governmental and private institutions interested in electrical transmission solutions to seams issues. SSG-WI believes these important issues require an effective stakeholder process to resolve.”

Information about SSG-WI is now available at www.ssg-wi.org. The website serves as a convenient central point of access for state regulatory agencies, utilities, generators and anyone else interested in closer coordination of the western grid.