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Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 1998

Assuring Compliance With Air Emissions Limits

James P. O'Brien

THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY HAD A novel idea: For power plants and sources relying on devices to control air emissions, rather than attempt to monitor the actual physical emissions to determine compliance with federal law, it simply would require inspections and tests of the performance of the control device. %n1%n

This strategy was formalized in the EPA's compliance assurance monitoring (CAM) rule signed Oct. 17, 1997. The EPA's theory is that if the control device is working properly, it is likely pollutant emissions fall within the required limits.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

WHEN LAST I HEARD, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL Kofi Annan had reached agreement with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on weapons inspections, staving off war. But the American Gas Association is still battling the electric industry and the U.S. Department of Energy to save market share for its gas-fired water heaters. This battle is serious.

The water heater war takes in a wide range of issues and players. I hear that ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), has raised gas industry ire with its new proposed standard 90.1.

People

PG&E Corp. promoted G. Brent Stanley to senior vice president of human resources and Greg S. Pruett to vice president of corporate communications.

CalEnergy Co. Inc. announced that J. Douglas Divine will serve as vice president of project development for CalEnergy Americas. Divine will be responsible for managing the business development activities throughout the Americas Region.

James M. Stephens was named president of Providence-Southern LLC. Prior to joining Providence-Southern, Stephens was assistant vice president of Reed Consulting Group. Stephens replaces Caroline K.

Benchmarks

Jon Ludwigson

THE MIDWEST INDEPENDENT SYSTEM OPERATOR PROposal raises the lingering question of whether the ISO model represents a "stepping stone" or a final form of electric industry transmission management. Many players are split on which model would best serve an open electric market: an ISO, or financial separation of the transmission and distribution system from electric generation.

Within the generalized ISO framework, individual members would retain ownership and operate and maintain transmission assets.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis

State Legislatures

CALIFORNIA ELECTRIC RESTRUCTURING. California Assemblywoman Diane Martinez, chairwoman of the Utilities and Commerce Committee, has introduced two new bills aimed at protecting consumers in a competitive market. But the measures already have been put on hold for this year. The first bill, AB 579, would cut rates for residential and small-volume commercial customers by 20 percent, rather than by 10 percent as promised in the state's restructuring act, AB 1890.

Perspective

Robert Blohm

TWO RECENT shocks could turn up the pressure on Canada's two state electricity giants to deregulate.

After January's ice storm, about half Quebec's population went without heat or light for up to a month (em at the coldest time of the year. Almost one-quarter of the provincial economy was shut down. It was the continent's worst-ever blackout and Canada's worst natural disaster. It cost Quebec 1 percent of its flagging gross domestic product.

The ice storm affected Ontario Hydro much less.

News Analysis

Lori A. Burkhart

THE U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT HAS ISSUED RULES that will allow all public power systems to participate in independent system operators without risk of losing the tax-exempt status of their bonds.

Investor-owned utilities are not happy. According to the Edison Electric Institute, the regulations significantly expand the ability of large government-owned electric utilities to use federal subsidies to compete against private utilities.

Meanwhile, the American Public Power Association is pleased that the rules passed Jan.

Off Peak

Wayne Crews

THE COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE, A FREE market think tank, announced its entry into the electric power market and demanded that utilities open up the power grid to its services.

Says CEI Fellow in Regulatory Studies Wayne Crews: "The pervasive thinking among so-called reformers is that just because somebody spins magnets, they have a right of access to utility wires property. Well, we're tired of fighting that idea.

Spark Spread Options: Linking Spot and Futures Markets for Gas and Electricity

Michael C. W. Hsu and Nguyen T. Quan

THE RAPID DEREGULATION OF THE BULK POWER MARKET has exposed utilities and power generators to the harsh reality of spot price volatility. This new reality begs the question: How can merchant generators, independent power producers and investor-owned utilities analyze their risk exposure when energy prices vary daily or even hourly?

The answer lies with spark spread options (em the link between electric power and gas prices.

Can Electricity Markets Work Without Capacity Prices?

Robert McCullough

MANY PLAYERS IN THE ELECTRIC INDUSTRY HAVE COME to believe that energy-only prices will soon replace the hundred-year tradition of pricing both energy and capacity.

This idea, sometimes called "monomic" trading, offers a seductive simplicity. Even so, research indicates that it is unlikely to work well.

First, consider some terminology. Traditional electric markets contain prices for both energy and capacity. Energy prices pertain to the actual kilowatt-hours. Capacity prices pertain to the right to take energy.

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