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Electric Market Reform Initiative works to change RTO landscape

From the October 21, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published October 21, 2013

The year was 2004. The setting: the American Public Power Association’s annual conference in Seattle, Wash.

"We had a session on RTOs―regional transmission organizations," said Joe Nipper, APPA’s senior vice president for government relations, in an article for Public Power magazine. The room was packed, he recalled. "I was struck by the volume and pitch of member complaints about the RTOs, which were relatively new."

"We had been early supporters of RTOs, which we believed would benefit our members by providing nondiscriminatory access to transmission, non-pancaked rates and generalized dispatch of generation," Nipper said. "So we were stunned to learn that our members were upset and angry about start-up costs and their limited role in decision-making."

The central concerns expressed about RTO-operated markets included high and volatile prices, difficulties obtaining long-term contracts, problematic governance processes and the complexity of these expanding markets. As a result of that session, he said, APPA realized it needed to act. The result was the Electric Market Reform Initiative.

APPA’s Executive Committee initiated EMRI about 21 months after that Seattle meeting, in March 2006. During its first year, APPA staff conducted a series of briefings for congressional staff to educate them about the changing electric utility industry; and EMRI funded a series of in-depth studies aimed at analyzing the nascent RTO-managed markets.

Those studies informed EMRI’s subsequent work to educate policymakers about the problems engendered by RTO markets and to find ways to fix the markets. More than 500 public power utilities contributed money to support the EMRI efforts.

Read more about APPA's work to reform wholesale electricity markets in the article, "Reforming Electric Markets," on

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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

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Robert Varela

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Jeannine Anderson

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