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Blackwell Sanders attorney will oversee Midwest ISO

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Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin LLP announced Oct. 6 that Karl Zobrist, a partner with the Kansas City law firm, has been chosen as caretaker and interim president of the Midwest Independent System Operator.

The Midwest ISO is a non-profit corporation formed by 12 regional electric utilities with the goal of promoting open access and competition in the electric transmission grid. Among Midwest ISO's transmission owners are Ameren Corp., of St. Louis, and its Union Electric and Central Illinois Public Service Company subsidiaries; Commonwealth Edison, of Chicago; Cinergy Corp., of Cincinnati; and Wisconsin Electric Co., of Milwaukee. The territory of the Midwest ISO reaches from western Maryland to eastern Missouri and covers a 13-state region with an electric service territory of 204,000 square miles.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission conditionally approved the establishment of the Midwest ISO Sept. 16. According to a release from Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin, it is the first voluntary effort by transmission owners, in conjunction with users, consumer groups and state regulators, to establish an independent system operator to reduce transmission costs, promote one-stop shopping for transmission service, coordinate transmission planning and enhance reliability.

As caretaker, Zobrist will perform certain administrative and start-up functions and oversee the election of the Midwest ISO's first board of directors. Zobrist will remain at Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin, where his practice focuses on energy and telecommunications law.

Zobrist left the firm in 1996 to be chairman of the Missouri Public Service Commission, appointed by Gov. Mel Carnahan. Zobrist served as chairman for a year and a half. The regulatory agency's Retail Electric Competition Task Force was established while Zobrist was chairman.

"We are very fortunate to have Mr. Zobrist in the caretaker position," said John Procario, chairman of the Midwest ISO's management council and vice president of electric system operations at Cinergy. "His background in utility regulation will serve him well in this role."

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