ERCOT Chief Technology Officer Mike Cleary briefed the board on the nodal program’s preparations for market connectivity tests – the program’s next major milestone – and a market readiness effort which is rapidly gaining speed. 

Market connectivity, which begins on Oct. 28, will give ERCOT market participants access to the nodal market trials environment and the latest version of several software applications, enabling them to complete their own development activities. 

Full-scale market trials begin in early 2010. The nodal market remains on track for its December 2010 implementation. 

“There are no major defects in the system tests … there’s nothing on the critical path we see causing us any issues,” Cleary said. “All lights are green.” 

A revamped Readiness Center went live Tuesday on the ERCOT web site.  The center includes a readiness scorecard for ERCOT and market participants to measure their readiness for market trials and nodal’s go-live date. Metrics measuring a relevant market trials phase will be initiated on the scorecard and tracked accordingly. 

The nodal readiness team has also begun a series of 33 outreach site visits with market participants.  

ERCOT Controller Mike Petterson said the nodal program has recorded a $24.5 under-run in program costs since January 2009. He said $12.4 million will be used for delayed projects and work in future months, but proposed the remaining $12.1 million be added to the board’s discretionary fund. Combined with a $14 million increase to the fund due to an interest rate hedging program and changes in nodal borrowing levels, the discretionary fund (contingency funding) now stands at $84.8 million, an increase of $26.2 million from $58.6 million. 

Petterson also presented a re-forecasted estimate-to-complete total of $98.3 million in direct project costs. 

“We’re trying to cover the known work that’s left, but we now have nearly as much money in the contingency fund as we have to complete the program,” Cleary said.