LOUISVILLE, Ky., Aug. 21, 2002 — The potential impacts of energy shortages and trader manipulation of the electricity markets could be reduced by a service Genscape Inc. is providing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Genscape, creator of a unique data collection system that monitors the nation’s power grid in real time, has signed a contract with FERC designed to give the Commission better oversight of the utilization of power plants and transmission lines.
Genscape’s service, Power 2.1, is based primarily on a network of wireless monitoring devices that gathers information at various points on the power grid. These monitors – roughly the size and shape of a mailbox – sit on private property and require no physical access to the power generation facilities or transmission lines being monitored. Genscape collects information about power plant outputs and transmission line flows and reports this information to its customers through both a web-based interface and an Internet data feed that supports a variety of the customers’ own energy risk- management tools.
David A. Doctor, Genscape’s Chief Executive Officer, said Power 2.1 is providing valuable information to the FERC. “The key is the real-time aspect of this information,” he said. “It allows FERC to intervene as an event unfolds rather than attempting to reconstruct the event weeks later. At the same time, use of a third-party provider such as Genscape allows FERC to monitor the markets without requiring utilities to turn over their proprietary data themselves.”
FERC has an interest in protecting the public not only against market manipulation, but also against disruptions caused by excessive demand. Instant access to information about available energy supplies could protect against such events or shorten their duration.
“Power 2.1 provides real-time information that is not available from any other source,” said Sean O’Leary, Genscape’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Critical information about generating plant output and transmission line utilization is delivered within seconds to Genscape’s customers’ desktops. Regulators using the service may inquire immediately about a situation that appears contrary to the public interest.”
Crises aside, Genscape’s service is valuable to anyone wanting to know which power plants are producing and which are not – in other words, who is buying electricity and who is selling. With its rapid growth, O’Leary said, Genscape’s information service has begun to affect the energy markets. “Enough customers are using Genscape for trading and reliability management that markets appear to be responding to extremes with more order,” he said. “This, coupled with the timeliness and accuracy of our data, makes Genscape’s service extremely attractive to traders, power plant operators, electric utilities, and regulators.”
Beginning its commercial operations just over a year ago, Genscape already has more than two dozen customers – including seven of the nation’s top 10 energy trading firms – and continues to add state regulators, power plant owners and operators, and other energy market participants to its customer base. Major customers signing on with Genscape this year include Cinergy, Constellation Power Source, El Paso Energy, Avista Energy, Progress Energy, and NRG. Earlier this year Genscape signed a co-marketing agreement with Platts, a division of McGraw-Hill, the world’s largest provider of energy information.
Genscape has secured patent-pending status for its monitoring process and various aspects of its hardware, software and calculation algorithms. The company has installed more than 1,000 monitoring devices across the United States, providing information on more than 200 power plants and transmission paths. Genscape intends to increase the number of monitored power plants and transmission points to over 300 by the end of 2002, which will give Genscape’s customers access to data on nearly all of the nation’s largest power facilities.
Genscape was founded in 1999 by Chief Marketing Officer Sean O’Leary and Chief Development Officer Sterling Lapinski, who worked together in various capacities at Southern Company Energy Marketing (now Mirant) and later developed Columbia Energy Service’s power trading group. Doctor, formerly President of Tenneco Energy Resources, was recruited last year as Genscape’s CEO.
For more information, see www.genscape.com.