FERC this year must select a reliability czar. But the obvious choice could prove less than ideal.
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
NERC up until now has been, in its own words, “a self regulatory organization, relying on reciprocity, peer pressure, and the mutual self-interest of all those involved in the electric system.” Nevertheless, can this tradition of kind, gentle, and voluntary consensus-building stand NERC in good stead as it seeks to transform itself in to a steel-fisted czar that would enforce mandatory standards?
Which utilities and states will be most affected by the new rules?
Regarding May's lengthy discussion by EPA officials on the Clean Air Interstate Rule: Which states, companies, and generating units will be most affected by the new rules?
The SEC denies approval of the AEP/CSW merger. What will that mean for industry consolidation?
What's wrong the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA)? The 1935 act clearly did not contemplate a competitive marketplace for electricity. Legislation should be updated to reflect the prevailing energy economic climate.
The Environmental Protection Agency reviews how the multi-pollutant control concept is to work.
Misha Adamantiades, Linda Chappell, and Sam Napolitano
Currently, 132 areas do not meet the new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particles or ozone, affecting some 160 million people, or 57 percent of the U.S. population. What efforts are under way by the EPA to bring these areas into compliance?
Windpower is caught in a vicious cycle of Washington politics. Escaping the cycle will require visionary leadership in Congress and the utility industry.
With the Production Tax Credit subject to the whims of a fickle Congress, U.S. windpower remains in an ongoing state of uncertainty. Will the United States embrace the technology?
Increased business and regulatory challenges have utilities lagging in investments to meet energy demand a decade from now.
The electricity enterprise has tended through restructuring to become a victim of its historic success in maintaining universal service reliability at ever-lower cost. The essential foundation for restoring enterprise vitality in the coming decade is rebuilding this fundamental public/private partnership, based on technology innovations that can increase the value of electricity service, including providing higher levels of reliability and security.
Utilities will gain from new regs for research tax credits.
Craig King, Jeff Jones, and Kurt Mars
The 1990s ushered in the era of deregulation, bringing a reluctance of state commissions to approve large capital expenditures for transmission and distribution (T&D). To make up for this, capital spending has increased dramatically in the last few years. Now the federal government is stepping in to help utilities prime the pump. The final regulations, issued in early 2004 by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, should make it a little easier for utilities, as well as other taxpayers, to use research and development (R&D) expenditures to help lower their effective tax rates.
Why does FERC want to limit pipeline discounts?
It's certainly puzzling, if not downright peculiar. That's the feeling one gets after studying the notice of inquiry (NOI) that FERC launched late last year, after nearly 10 years of dragging its feet, to re-examine the wisdom of encouraging the practice of rate discounting by interstate natural gas pipelines.
Why not let the industry make its own decisions on how to meet economy-wide reductions in greenhouse-gas intensity as a percentage of GDP? It can be demonstrated easily that the land requirements for biomass to replace fossil fuels far exceed what is available in the world and the United States, including croplands, pastures, and meadows.
Lori A. Burkhart
A broad coalition of 30 utilities, environmental groups, and consumer organizations delivered a letter on September 18 to members of the Northwest U.S.