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Commissioner Tony Clark Statement
March 20, 2014
Docket Nos. RM14-2-000
Item No. M-1

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Coordination of the Natural Gas and Electric NOPR

“My dissent from today’s order stems from factors related to both its timing and its process going forward.

“For the past several months, a number of groups have been organizing efforts to develop a framework that might ultimately lead to a gas-electric industry consensus proposal. While the success of these efforts is no sure thing, I would have preferred that we give industry more time. A firm deadline of perhaps another 3-4 months should have been sufficient to determine whether these efforts stood any chance of success. The downside risk of giving these groups more time seems small considering that the timeline envisioned in this order still puts the proposed solutions in place after next winter. Even if industry-led efforts failed, the Commission would still have had enough time to put forward a proposal similar to this in time for the winter of 2015-16. I fear that by releasing this NOPR now, we are doing a disservice to those involved in industry-led efforts, by giving them just enough time to get started, but also ensuring they do not have enough time to complete their work. In retrospect, if the Commission was not fully supportive of giving these groups until the middle of this year to complete discussions, we should have saved everyone the hassle and simply issued a NOPR months ago.

“My second concern is related to a concurrent NAESB process the Commission proposes simultaneous to this NOPR. As a consensus-driven organization, NAESB is dependent on all parties having a reason to negotiate and compromise upon sometimes difficult technical issues in which there are vested interests. I worry this effort may be less-than-fruitful now that the Commission has already set out its marker and put its thumb on the scale. Parties that might have had an interest in negotiating in good faith may see little reason to do so if they feel like they will ultimately get from this Commission most of what they wanted in the first place. We have effectively short-circuited any chance for industry to collaborate or compromise in the spirit of true negotiation, perhaps consigning the NAESB process to the same fate we have now given to other consensus-driven efforts.

“For these reasons, I respectfully dissent.”