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Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1997

Real-Time Pricing - Supplanted by Price-Risk Derivatives?

Mike O'Sheasy

RTP assumes that price spikes will deter load. But how will customers behave if they've hedged against that risk?

Tomorrow's electricity industry promises a wealth of pricing options as wholesale generation becomes more like a commodity. Spot pricing marks one example. And with spot markets will come a greater need for price derivatives (em hedge contracts that will permit customers to trade or shed risk to achieve a higher degree of price certainty.

Washington Briefs

FERC Gives Guidance To Foreign Affiliates. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Jan. 15 denied a petition by British Columbia Power Exchange Corp. (Powerex), the power marketing affiliate of British Columbia Hydro and Canada-utility Power Authority (BC Hydro) to sell power at market-based rates.

The order marked the first time the FERC showed how it will apply Order 888's open-access requirements to foreign utility affiliates (Docket No. ER97-556-000).

"I look forward to Powerex taking another run at this issue," says Commissioner James Hoecker.

N.Y. Court Upholds PSC's Electric Restructuring Plan

Phillip S. Cross

A New York supreme court (Albany county) has affirmed a May 1996 order by state public service commission to restructure the state's electric utility industry, upholding PSC's "flexible retail poolco" model and authority to direct utilities to file plans for further review.

The court ruled that the PSC may deregulate generation and compel separation of generation, wires, and energy marketing functions. Moreover, the PSC need not guarantee 100-percent recovery of stranded costs, says court, but may "encourage" utilities to divest themselves of generating assets.

Electric vs. Gas

Bruce B. Lindsay

I was amused and concerned by the allegations of marketing warfare that Mr. Krebs felt compelled to address in his December 1996 article.

Dodging Suits and Pols, DOE Digs In on Nuclear Waste

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

Chair Murkowski Chews Out an Undersecretary. At a Senate panel on a bill calling for the Department of Energy to store nuclear waste short-term, opponents stacked up objections, even renewing opposition to a permanent site.

The "Nuclear Waste Policy Act," S. 104, is similar to a bill passed in the Senate last year. It calls for

construction of temporary storage, a safe way to transport the waste, and more studies leading to a permanent site 1,200 feet below the ground at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Already, $6 billion has helped bore an exploratory tunnel there.

Off Peak

A control area is like an airport (em too many planes, not enough runways.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, AUGUST 21, 1996 - 8:35 A.M.

On Saturday, Aug. 10, 1996, a power outage left more than 4 million Californians without electricity, prompting the California Public Utilities Commission to conduct emergency hearings. Witnesses appeared from electric utilities and a host of federal and state agencies, including the Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Western Systems Coordinating Council.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

One of these days you may see a former chairman of the American Gas Association become the new chair of the Edison Electric Institute. Or maybe the other way around.

I broached this subject the other day when I found myself downtown at EEI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, talking with some association reps.

Bumpers' Bill Introduced In 105th Congress

Lori A. Burkhart

A national electric competition bill introduced by Senator Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) Jan. 30 that would allow customers to choose their electric supplier by December 2003, invoked mixed reactions.

Bumpers, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee, said the bill would establish a uniform federal system to avoid "certain chaos," which would result from legislating different guidelines for the industry.

People

Dennis L. Haider succeeded the retiring R.J. White as president of Prairielands Energy Marketing, Inc. Haider moved over from v.p.-operations for the Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co., another unit of MDU Resources Group Inc. Prairielands became a subsidiary of Williston Basin when Haider took over as president.

In a related development, Ronald G. Skarphol, a special projects manager of Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., takes White's place as v.p.-marketing and business development. Montana-Dakota is another MDU division.

Ensource Cancels Out in Jurisdictional Ploy

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed Ensource, a subsidiary of Pacific Enterprises, to cancel its authorization to engage in power marketing activities at market-based rates.

Intervenors protested that Ensource pursued the cancellation as a tactical maneuver to remove the proposed merger between Pacific Enterprises and Enova from FERC review. They claim that the merger applicants ultimately would resume Ensource's operations and make it part of a post-merger joint venture to market electricity, natural gas and energy-related services at market-based rates.

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