What is Open Access?
The decades-long challenge in the transmission business is that it is a natural monopoly. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been working on an open access policy that allows more competition in electric generation. More competition enables customers to choose from a variety of power companies, rather than being forced to buy power from the local utility monopoly.
FERC regulates the prices, terms and conditions of all transmission services, as well as power sold in interstate commerce. On April 24, 1996, FERC issued two major open access regulations, Orders 888 and 889, to progress the electric utility industry toward a more competitive structure. Most importantly, the orders require all public utilities to provide non-discriminatory open-transmission access. Open access is an evolving movement to give all generators and wholesale customers access to the transmission system.
Open Access Same-time Information System (OASIS)
FERC’s Order 888 requires all public utilities to file open access transmission tariffs (OATT), providing nondiscriminatory access to all wholesale users. FERC Order 889 attempts to make transmission system information available to anyone, not just the monopolies who have kept the information to themselves in the past. The order requires each transmission owner to make their technical data and information available on an Open Access Same-time Information System (OASIS).
OASIS is a real-time information-sharing system on the internet that enables all buyers and sellers of electricity to access the transmission costs for all other buyers and sellers. Using public records, this system ensures that transmission owners don’t have an unfair advantage in using a transmission path to sell power.