Three US energy firms to form GridSouth

Three big energy companies in the Carolinas Tuesday reported plans to form a regional transmission organization with 22,000 miles of transmission lines and to be named GridSouth.

CP&L Energy Inc., Duke Energy Corp., and SCANA Corp. said the proposal will be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by October 16 and will be consistent with FERC's intent to have all utilities in the country operating in regional transmission organizations by Dec. 15, 2001.

Initially, the three utilities will continue to own their existing transmission networks, while the RTO will assume broad operational and planning responsibilities to ensure open and nondiscriminatory access to the electric transmission grid. The companies, which together own and operate about 34,5000 Mw of electric generation, said they will unveil the initial proposal to other stakeholders during regional public meetings in August and September.

Taking a regional approach "should make our already competitive wholesale electricity markets even more robust," William Cavanaugh, CP&L Energy chairman, said in a statement.

Duke Energy Chairman Richard B. Priory said the proposed RTO is the first step in moving toward a broad, regional independent transmission company spanning the Southeast.

In preparation for a required filing with the FERC, the three utilities said they will work with state regulators and hold at least four public meetings to explain initial plans for the operation of the regional transmission and to seek comment.

CP&L Energy, Raleigh, NC, through its subsidiary, Carolina Power & Light Co., provides electric service for 1.2 million customers in the eastern and western Carolinas. Through its subsidiary, Duke Power, Duke Energy, provides electric service to 2 million customers in the central and western Carolinas. Columbia, SC-based SCANA, the parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas, serves 525,000 electric customers in central and southern South Carolina.

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