The Transmission Access Policy Study Group, or TAPS, was formed by several joint action agencies and individual municipal electric systems in 1989. At that time, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) was lobbying FERC heavily for permission to charge market-based transmission rates for the use of monopoly transmission assets. TAPS systems came together to provide a strong voice in opposition to this initiative and similar proposals. At that time, FERC lacked clear authority to order transmission owners to provide transmission service and utilities like PG&E were arguing for significant incentives to provide transmission service to transmission-dependent utilities on a “voluntary” basis. As a result of the efforts of TAPS and others, the PG&E proposal was never approved by FERC.

Following this initial victory, TAPS became a forceful voice at the FERC and in Congress for the interests of transmission-dependent utilities (TDUs) — that is, those utilities that must rely on transmission facilities owned by others to serve their loads. TAPS’ focus is on transmission, market power, and reliability issues that are crucial to the competitive viability of small systems and to the creation and maintenance of truly competitive wholesale markets for the benefit of all electric consumers.

TAPS members are a mix of joint action agencies, individual municipal systems, and some state and regional organizations of municipal and/or rural electric cooperative systems. A few own transmission, but also rely on the facilities of others. One private utility, Madison (WI) Gas & Electric Company, is a member, as is New Hampshire Electric Cooperative.

By working together, each TAPS member is able to have a voice in important FERC policy proceedings and legislative initiatives, at significantly less cost than it would take to proceed individually. In addition, by working together as a unified group, we have increased the political and regulatory clout of TDUs significantly.

TAPS’ attorney is Cindy Bogorad of Spiegel & McDiarmid. TAPS’ Washington lobbyists are Deborah Sliz of Morgan Meguire LLC and Rob Talley of Talley & Associates. TAPS also relies on the voluntary participation and hard work of its members in grass roots lobbying.