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Fortnightly Magazine - January 1 1997

Residential Pilot Programs: Who's Doing, Who's Dealing?

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

Residential Pilot Programs:

Doing,

Dealing?

Customer choice and electric restructuring may appear synonymous to regulators, but for utilities "choice" means "market share."

THERE WERE 19 PILOT PROGRAMS

planned or underway in the United States by the end of November, involving some 500,000 customers in all classes. The goal? To test competition in retail electric markets.

In the residential class, pilots were operating in Illinois, New Hampshire, and New York. Massachusetts expected to roll out its pilot by January 1. Pennsylvania was planning an April startup.

Off Peak

Options, that is, as they pass the nationwide median in long-term pay incentives (em more than their counterparts at transportation or industrial firms (em but still less than execs at automotive and consumer companies.

Among CEOs (chief executive officers) at consumer products companies, industrial concerns, and transportation firms, top executives at energy companies can now boast of long-term pay incentives accounting for some 44 percent of their overall annual pay packages.

Load Aggregation: The Wolf at the Door?

Ben Blumberg, and Jonathon Shaevitz

Load Aggregation:

The Wolf at the Door?

Of course, there's nothing to stop a utility from aggregating its own customers.

WHAT, EXACTLY, IS LOAD "AGGREGATION?" Is it a threat, an opportunity, or merely a sales tactic?

Actions taken in California, as well as in pilot programs across the country, place customer aggregation on the leading edge of efforts to pull native load from electric utilities.

Ironically, present-day utilities already "aggregate" their customers (em albeit into a single group.

Is Competition Lacking in Electric Generation? (And Why It Should Not Matter)

Judah Rose, Shanthi Muthiah, and Maria Fusco

Incumbent monopolists won't command high premiums

if newcomers can rebuild capacity from scratch at a cheaper price.

At first glance, many of the nation's regional markets for wholesale electric generation appear monopolistic. In some of the 18 regional power markets we have identified, the leading companies account for 75 to 90 percent of the area's generating assets. In other markets, where the concentration problem does not yet seem as pressing, mergers and acquisitions threaten to raise levels of concentration of ownership in generation.

Price Behavior in Electricity Futures: The Story So Far

Anna Godlewska, Antonio S. Mello, and John E. Parsons

What do the first months of trading say about the spread between spot markets and futures prices?

ust over nine months ago the New York Mercantile

Exchange opened trading in the first-ever electricity futures contracts. As occurred

previously in oil and gas, futures trading in electricity

promises to play a central role in

commodity markets (em markets that are gradually evolving as competitive.

Electricity futures also provide a valuable tool for managers at utilities or other power producers.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

Ever since word hit the street last July that Portland General Electric Co. (PGE) would merge with gas industry giant Enron, the news has been rather one-sided. It's been "Enron this" and "Enron that." From reading the papers one might think Enron, with its strong reputation as a commodities trader, was buying an entire electric utility simply to take a bigger position on the NYMEX futures market.

People

Peter R. Thomas was hired from Sprint as v.p. of American Electric Power's new communications subsidiary, AEP Communications, Inc.

Central Illinois Light Co. hired Todd Severson as human resources v.p. He comes from Remco, a subsidiary of Thorn Americas.

Scott A. Neitzel, a member of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission since January 1992, has resigned. Neitzel chaired the PSC's electric utility industry restructuring committee.

Ohio Edison Co.'s board of directors elected chairman and CEO Willard R. Holland as its chairman.

Joules

The Texas PV Coalition has been formed to speed commercial availability of photovoltaic systems as a service alternative to extending utility lines. The coalition, which will be managed by Planergy, Inc., an independent energy service company, includes Rio Grande Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Wise Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc.; and Lubbock Power & Light. Funding to the tune

of $250,000 was provided by the Utility Photovoltaic Group (backed by the U.S. Department of Energy) and the Texas State Energy Conservation Office.

Vermont Opts for Choice in 1998

Lori A. Burkhart

The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) has issued its draft utility restructuring plan, proposing competitive wholesale and retail markets for generation with regulated monopolies for transmission and distribution (Docket No. 5854). The state's largest investor-owned utilities would be required to functionally separate their generation and distribution functions into corporate subsidiaries.The plan builds on the Vermont Restructuring Principles adopted by the PSB last May.

Retail customer choice is scheduled as early as January 1, 1998.

Nuclear Power: Taking the Long View

Lewis J. Rubin

Nuclear Power:

Taking The Long View

In today's market, with competition imminent and natural gas still cheap, nuclear generation appears dicey. The popular view tags nuclear with high costs and suspect availability, even without reaching the more fundamental issues of safety and waste disposal. One wonders: What advantages lie open to nuclear power?

Many observers see excess capacity running rampant and commodity prices falling across the board as deregulation accelerates and power flows more freely across markets and service territories.

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