Electric M&A: The merger with PSE&G may herald a new industry structure, squarely at odds with regional markets.
The marriage between Exelon and PSEG would create the largest electric utility in the United States. The policy implications could loom even larger, however. Standing at risk is nothing less than FERC’s entire regulatory regime for approval of mergers and market-based rates.
Where Entergy leads, will Wal-Mart follow?
Everyone is talking about Entergy's move to form a single-company RTO-lite across its service territory in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
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 a new market-power screen—accounting for the relationship between customers and suppliers in the wholesale marketplace—is a necessity.
The philosophy of "first, do no harm" has served the medical profession well for more than 2,000 years. Today, it may be equally good advice for FERC as it seeks to create fair and accurate screens to determine who does and does not have market power. One of the two interim screens FERC is using to evaluate applications for market-based rate authority may create a large number of false positives—power suppliers judged to have market power when in reality they do not. To remedy this, FERC should add a new market-power screen based upon an analysis of the actual relationship between customers and suppliers in the wholesale marketplace.
The risks in renewable portfolio standards.
State-mandated renewable portfolio standards are being adopted across the country to facilitate the development of renewable energy projects. Nineteen states have enacted renewable portfolio standards, but significant barriers remain to fulfill the potential of RPS. Will RPS actually result in a substantial amount of new project construction?
Has rate regulation become obsolete for natural gas pipelines?
On Jan. 30, FERC will hold a public conference to review the financial health of the pipeline industry. It will ask whether its regulatory framework still works; whether pipelines can still attract new capital for investment. Does rate policy threaten the financial integrity of the pipeline industry? That very question may come before the Commission. Nevertheless, FERC need not look far for an answer. If the pipeline industry should lie at risk, the cause may go no farther than the Commission itself. In fact, FERC ratemaking policy for gas transportation service now appears to jeopardize the ability of pipelines to recover costs.
Lori A. Burkhart
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has set for hearing a request by Koch Gateway Pipeline Co. (KGP) to charge market-based rates for firm and interruptible natural gas transportation services (Docket No. RP95-362-000). First, however, the FERC must conclude Docket No. RM95-6-000, which will delineate the circumstances under which it may approve market-based rates.
Lori A. Burkhart
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has conditionally approved an open-access transmission tariff that contains a price cap in the secondary market for Kansas City Power & Light Co. (KCPL), marking the second settlement of a comparability tariff filing (Docket Nos. ER94-1045-000 et al.).