After reviewing recent system test results, including its final trials, the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (Midwest ISO) today confirmed its readiness for financially binding settlements in the Midwest Markets on April 1.

"The results of numerous system operations tests, parallel operations, mandatory trials and systems stress tests demonstrates that our systems and staff are ready to operate the markets," said John Bear, chief operating officer for the Midwest ISO.

"Based on the results of the testing to date, our system performance is exceptional," Bear added. "The system availability, performance level and data quality have been proven to support all the functions of the markets, even under the various stresses we have subjected these systems to since Dec. 1, 2004. Additionally, our staff has demonstrated they are prepared to reliably operate the systems."

Bear said the Midwest ISO plans to certify its readiness to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission next week.

The systems that will operate the Midwest Markets were developed over several years by the Midwest ISO "markets initiative" team led by Mark J. Griffin, vice president and chief of staff.

"The functioning systems that we put into operations on Dec. 1, 2004 were the result of a collaborative process with our stakeholders," Griffin said. "The centralized dispatch, security constrained unit commitment, Locational Marginal Pricing (LMP) and Financial Transmission Rights (FTRs) all continue to function as designed."

The various tests and trials follow a recent decision to postpone the full launch of the Midwest Energy Markets, which Midwest ISO Market Participants requested to allow for additional testing of systems and training. The organization and its stakeholders will utilize the additional time to continuously run the systems that will be used to operate the markets on April 1 and provide additional training to both Market Participants and Midwest ISO operations personnel, officials said Monday.

Although transactions will not be financially binding until the market formally opens on April 1, the Midwest ISO will continue with all other previously scheduled activities.

Highlights of recent milestones achieved include:

* Completion of sixth and seventh System Operations Tests (Jan. 29 & Feb. 3-4). The Jan. 29 test (a two-hour test), conducted at the backup control center in Indianapolis, tested the Midwest ISO's ability to run the market over a morning load ramp. During this test, the Midwest ISO successfully handled a load pick up of approximately 5000 MW, moving more Megawatts than in any earlier test; managed a 1300 MW ramp into the Midwest ISO dispatch over approximately 10 minutes, and sustained the loss of one unit. The Feb. 3 and 4 test (a five-hour test) was the longest test to- date and the first test in which the Midwest ISO dispatched 100 percent of the generation within its entire region. The evening load drop of approximately 15,000 MW took place over the midnight hours between two calendar days. In addition, the Automated Reserve Sharing functionality was tested in both the Jan. 29 and Feb. 3-4 tests.

* North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) audit of Joint Operating Agreement functionality (Jan. 24 - Jan. 28). NERC's Interchange Distribution Calculator Working Group issued a favorable report on the Midwest ISO's market flow calculator, finding the successful calculation of market flow and transfer of data. The calculator modifications allow Midwest ISO operators to upload market flow information to NERC, ensuring smooth operations for the Midwest ISO market if a Transmission Loading Relief event is called to relieve congestion.

* Inception of Final Trials (Jan. 27). A total of 116 Market Participants took part in the second coordinated stress test; 64 of these 116 participants represented 84 percent of peak generation and load in the Midwest ISO region.

* Completion of Final Trials (Jan. 29 - Feb. 4). The testing of all functionality identified in the Energy Markets Tariff and the Grandfathered Agreement Orders was completed. The implementation of the Midwest ISO system cutover plan for ongoing market operations began on Feb. 5.