New York Poised to Close Last Coal-fire Power Plant

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Industry News

Six Southwest Utilities Form RTO

LCG, Oct. 5, 2001--Six utilities in the U.S. Southwest, under the leadership of Arizona Public Service Co., said yesterday that they have agreed to form a profit-making regional transmission organization to be known as West Connect.

West Connect will replace Desert Star, a non-profit RTO developed by the utilities over the past four years and will incorporate may of its policies and procedures. "The group has decided that a for-profit governance structure is in the best interest of the utilities," APS President Jack Davis said in a statement. West Connect hopes to be open for business by late 2003.

In addition to APS, the firms forming West Connect include the Salt River Project, El Paso Electric Co., Public Service Co. of New Mexico, Tucson Electric Power Co. and Texas-New Mexico Power Co.

The companies will ask within a week or so for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to bless their proposal. "We will file with FERC by mid-month," APS spokesman Alan Lee Bunnell said.

Pending FERC approval, West Connect will take the place of Desert Star, and the new, for-profit RTO hopes to eventually bring in the "couple of dozen" members of its predecessor and add new members from the West and Pacific Northwest.

"We have received positive feedback from all of the organizations of Desert Star," Bunnell said. The membership of Desert Star includes regional electrical cooperatives and municipal electric utility companies.

As to branching out into the West and Pacific northwest, Bunnell said "Our ultimate goal is to bring to life FERC's goal of having four RTOs in the continental United States."

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