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Fortnightly Magazine - January 1 1996

Electricity Utility Mergers: The Answer or the Question?

Robert J. Michaels

Differences of opinion make for good horse races and bad jokes about economists, and those who are studying the recent wave of electric utility merger announcements have not let us down. Some of these economists optimistically believe that the mergers act as forces for competition, since they will combine corporate assets and staffs to bolster operating efficiency and market acumen at the merged companies. Other economists, who see transmission as the root of monopoly power, are more pessimistic.

Perspective

Leonard S. Greenberger

One of my first assignments when I was a reporter for this magazine was a story on the flap over the Environmental Protection Agency's 1990 draft report on electromagnetic fields (EMF).

N.C. Tightens Rules on Utility Promotional Programs

Phillip S. Cross

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has adopted a new set of guidelines to help settle disputes between electric and gas utilities over utility-sponsored promotional programs. It also established a rule for evaluating proposed incentive programs, approving a new food-service rate program designed by Duke Power Co. to encourage the installation of electric food preparation equipment in commercial kitchens.

Hurdling Ever Higher: A New Obstacle Course for Mergers at the FERC?

John F. Mandt and Karl R. Moor

For the partners in a utility merger, the celebration must wait. After opening the most delicate of dialogues, and then negotiating the price and closing the deal, the merger partners must yet gain the approval of regulators. The application may lie sealed in its FedEx pouch, safely on its way to Washington.

Marketing & Competing

Richard M. Morrow

As we move toward open energy markets, new players will be competing to offer consumers many of the services utilities offer today. It will no longer be enough to just meet our obligation to serve. We will also need to provide the products and services that customers value, at a level superior to that of the competition, while enhancing value to shareholders.

To retain customers, utilities need to understand the nature of the market. What customer values shape it?

Off Peak

David A. Foli and A. Clay Denton

At the November 1, 1995, meeting of the Natural Gas Roundtable in Washington, DC, a representative of the American Gas Association (A.G.A.) launched a blistering attack against the Energy Information Agency (EIA) for its forecasts of natural gas prices. In essence, A.G.A. complains that EIA's long-term forecasts have proven unreasonably high, softening enthusiam for gas-burning equipment (from turbines to gas water heaters).

As quoted by Gas Daily, A.G.A.'s representative said: "The bottom line is whose numbers are right.

Jurisdictional Gridlock: A Pathway Out of Darkness

Craig A. Glazer

Bunker Hill. Gettysburg. Pearl Harbor. Iwo Jima. The Cold War. Each of these famous conflicts resonates in our history books. Despite the end of the Cold War, we may face another battle, this time between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the states over jurisdiction.

Rep. Dingell Questions Need for Federal Bill

Lori A. Burkhart

Speaking last fall in New York City, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI), the ranking Democratic leader of the House Commerce Committee, questioned the need for federal legislation on electric utility restructuring, and even warned the audience that passage of any federal legislation in the 105th Congress to require electric competition was far from guaranteed.

The occasion for the talk was a conference entitled, "Deregulation (em The Changing Electric Utility Industry (em Opportunities and Risks," sponsored by the financial house of Bear, Stearns & Co.

Electric Transmission: An Overview

Bruce W. Radford

By its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on wholesale electric competition, commonly called the "Mega-NOPR" (or "Giga-NOPR"), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has announced big plans for electric transmission.

The FERC would require "functional" unbundling of transmission from generation. The Mega-NOPR requires utilities that own transmission to file tariffs for point-to-point and network transmission services, based on guidelines in pro forma tariffs published by the FERC.

FERC Claims Jurisdiction Over Tiered Pipelines

Lori A. Burkhart

In three similar orders, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given itself regulatory authority over linked and integrated intrastate pipelines in certain situations.

The first order finds the Kansas Pipeline (KP) system a single interstate pipeline system subject to the FERC's Natural Gas Act (NGA) jurisdiction, requiring KP to file an application for certificate authorization (Docket No. RP95-212-000).

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