Plan for national power grid draws opposition

Nov 13, 2001 01:00 AM

With a federal deadline approaching to convert the nation's fragmented electricity distribution system into a nationalized power grid, some states are balking at the plan, which would allow electricity to be transferred more easily between different regions.
Federal regulators had set a deadline of Dec. 15 to transform the nation's patchwork of power systems into four Regional Transmission Organizations, controlled by a commission in Washington. The plan would make it easier for companies to sell their power around the country by eliminating transmission fees collected by those who own the power lines.

But while some parts of the country, like New England and the Midwest, are set to switch over to the new model, others are becoming increasingly critical of the plan. In the South, for instance, regulators are reluctant to surrender local control of the grid. Protests from Georgia and other southern states may have played a role in the Bush administration's decision to postpone the new scheme.
And in the West, some states fear they will become "energy farms" for California, which uses a lot of power but often opposes building new plants. "Suddenly it's become very much a states' rights kind of thing," said Pat McMurray of the Edison Electric Institute. "You're taking a process that was very local, in the sense that Boston wasn't deciding what would happen in North Carolina, and moving all that power to these people in Washington"

Source: E&E Publishing
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