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Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1997

Electronic Trading: Toward an Hourly Market in Natural Gas

Greg M. Lander

THERE IS MUCH TALK ABOUT CONVERGENCE.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asks, "What needs to be done to enable the gas and electric markets to work together to become more integrated?" The real question is more direct: "How can the gas industry transform what is presently, at best, a daily market, with daily procedures, to an hourly or quarter-hourly electric generation business and gain benefits at the same time?"

Will the answer come from hourly gas trading and pricing?

Northeast Utilities, NRC Could Face State Probe

Lori A. Burkhart

Connecticut's Department of Public Utility Control and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal alleged gross mismanagement of the 582-megawatt Connecticut Yankee nuclear plant in charges filed at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Northeast Utilities owns 49 percent of the facility.

The plant has been shut since December 1996 and is being dismantled. The filing claimed the utility lost control of contamination and created an undocumented nuclear waste dump.

Electronic Trading: Toward a Mature Power Market

Lori M. Rodgers

A MASSIVE, WORLD WAR I-era building in downtown Baltimore houses Constellation Power Source, an unregulated, wholly owned power-marketing subsidiary of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. Upon introducing the new company in February, BG&E announced that Goldman Sachs would serve as "exclusive advisor" for the start-up.

Later, when asked to clarify the relationship between the two companies, Charles W.

FERC's Massey Previews Fall Electric Agenda

Lori A. Burkhart

Commissioner William L. Massey said four issues would dominate the fall electric agenda of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: Orders 888 and 889 implementation, mergers, independent system operators and reliability.

Speaking on Sept. 11 at the PowerMart Power '97 conference and expo in Houston, Massey said the FERC hoped to issue a major order this fall on elements of California restructuring to ease implementation of the ISO and power exchange by Jan. 1, 1998.

The ULTRA Award: Honoring Leaders in Information Technology

KCPL first with meters, automation; APS second for T&D management.

IF THE 1997 ULTRA COMPETITION CAN SERVE AS A GUIDE, then perhaps the forgotten "wires" business offers the next great opportunity for new applications in information technology.

That's the lesson of this year's contest, which saw Kansas City Power & Light Co., and Arizona Public Service Co. win the top two prizes. Each company gained recognition for IT applications designed in large part to modernize electric utility distribution systems.

Schaefer to Put Shoulder to Door on Choice Bill

Lori A. Burkhart

Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.) insists he intends to help enact federal customer choice legislation with a certain start date. The chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power made the pledge Sept. 24 at the panel's 20th hearing on electric restructuring. The hearing's focus was on state and federal roles in enacting competition.

Schaefer pointed out that the Edison Electric Institute seeks to avoid a federal mandate on retail access, yet members are going back to their states to throw a wrench into deliberations on, or implementation of, restructuring.

Global Alliances

Lori Glauser

DRIVEN BY ECONOMIC GROWTH, INDUSTRIALIZATION and privatization, worldwide demand for primary energy could double by 2020 (em requiring one 500-megawatt power plant to be built every 3.5 days to meet that need. Much of this growth will occur in Asian countries, most notably China, Thailand, India, South Korea, and Indonesia. China alone is expected to increase electric generating capacity by 15,000 MW per year at a cost of about $15 billion annually.

Hydro, Coal Power Up; Gas Down, Says DOE's IEA

Lori A. Burkhart

Hydroelectric power generation by U.S. electric utilities increased 12 percent between 1995 and 1996, according to the latest publication by the DOE's Energy Information Administration. Hydro generation contrasted with output at gas-fired units. That dropped 15 percent to 263 billion kilowatt-hours (em the lowest level since 1993 (em partly due to a substantial increase in gas prices.

According to Electric Power Annual 1996 Volume 1, the average cost of gas delivered to electric utilities on a dollars-per-million-Btu basis was $2.64 in 1996, the highest since 1985.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

WHEN UTILITIES SAY THEY WILL "EXIT" THE generation business (em their stock in trade for the last 50 years (em what does that mean exactly? And what of those that plan to "concentrate" on transmission and distribution? Can you visualize a T&D utility? What would it look like? How many employees? How big a dividend? It's time to ponder these questions.

TVA Gets $7M, Then Zero in ‘99

Lori A. Burkhart

The House and Senate conference committee working on energy appropriations decided to cut funding for the Tennessee Valley Authority, then end it after 1998.

The Senate had proposed giving TVA $86 billion to fund nonenergy programs such as flood control and environmental programs (em $20 billion less than the amount proposed by the Clinton Administration. The House held out for less, agreeing to fund $70 million in 1998.

TVA Chair Craven Crowell said the $70 million, along with "carryover funds" from 1997, will allow TVA to meet its obligations.

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