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Fortnightly Magazine - April 15 1998


Bruce W. Radford

ATTENDED ANY HEARINGS LATELY AT THE FEDERAL ENERGY Regulatory Commission? They're getting ugly. I see a federal agency under siege (em from without and from within.

The Commission seems to have lost the easy confidence that reigned during Elizabeth Moler's tenure. Don't blame new Chairman James Hoecker. He's getting it from all sides, and it's not his fault.

Consider the bottomless pit known as electric system "reliability." We need new laws to pin down FERC authority.


EL PASO Energy Corp. named C. Dana Rice vice president and treasurer. Previously, Rice served as vice president of finance for Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.

Duke Energy Power Services LLC named William F. Hall vice president and general manager of California operations. Previously, Hall was the regional manager for Duke Power's 2,700-megawatt Allen, Riverbend and Lincoln power plants in North Carolina.

Linda S. Lennox, who joined NUI Corp. in February 1997 as director of corporate communications and investor relations, was promoted to assistant vice president of the department.


Leonard S. Hyman

ON ECONOMICS OF RELIABILITY. I think Karl Stahlkopf's and Philip P. Sharp's comments on reliability ("Reliability in Power Delivery: Where Technology and Politics Meet," Jan. 15, 1998) fail on three issues, all of them involving money.

First, the authors imply annual savings "from deregulation" of around $9 billion per year. Are we really going through all this trouble for so little? Or has something been lost in the rounding process?

Second, they assert that the cost of power disturbances are $26 billion per year.


John S. Ferguson

DEPRECIATION, DEFERRAL, DENIAL. I have often discussed in Public Utilities Fortnightly the tendency for regulation to defer the recording and recovery of depreciation expenses. Therefore, Mr. William C. Schaeffer's discussion of this subject in the February 1, 1998 issue (see "Mail," p. 11) attracted my attention, especially his quoted claim of the Delaware public advocate that investors should be neutral to depreciation deferral on a present value basis.

My experience has been that present value arguments in regulatory proceedings relative to depreciation are in support of deferral.


Christopher Seiple

BY THE END OF MARCH, CALIFORNIA, RHODE ISLAND, and Massachusetts planned to offer retail choice to customers. However, early signs suggest electric competition may fall short of expectations due to stranded cost recovery mechanisms and the desire of customers to protect themselves from risks inherent in a competitive market.

When the California market was about open, less than 5 percent of customers had elected to switch suppliers.

News Digest

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

MICHIGAN CHOICE APPEAL. Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley filed an appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals of the Michigan PSC's Jan. 14 rehearing order (News Digest, March 15, 1998, p. 18) adopting a phase-in schedule for electric restructuring and retail choice for Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison. Kelley alleged that the order fails to create a competitive generation market or foster lower rates. He called it an "outrage," that gave the utilities everything they wanted. Case Nos. u-11290 et al., Feb. 13, 1998 (Mich.P.S.C.).



George C. Loehr

AMERICANS ARE fascinated with lists. There are lists of just about anything you can name, from the Fortune 500 to baseball batting averages. There's even a book of lists. We especially like to rank "top tens," like the 10 best cities to live in or the 10 worst school districts in America. Television has popularized these lists.

News Analysis

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

WHETHER DOING BUSINESS IN SANTIAGO OR Krakow, Budapest or Bang Kraui, American energy service companies agree: It's tough to find a lender to finance international projects.

ESCO executives working around the globe met to commiserate at the International Roundtable on Energy Efficiency Financing Feb. 26-27 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Arlington, Va. Sponsors of the Roundtable included the National Association of Energy Service Companies and the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Off Peak


According to PaineWebber's report, Power Book, utility stocks "are likely to continue to lag the market." Of the 66 electric utilities surveyed, only 9 earned a "buy," or "1," recommendation, and six scored "unattractive," or a "4" rating (see table). The rest fell somewhere between, their stocks labeled either "attractive," or "neutral."

While a merger can bolster a company's potential, it isn't a sure bet. Cinergy Corp.

Let's Schmooze Scott Sklar, Sunny Side Up

Joseph F. Schuler Jr. Photography by Rick Reinhard

SCOTT SKLAR, WHO SHOWERS WITH SOLAR-HEATED water, who drinks his skim milk from his solar-powered refrigerator, who commutes via solar-powered car, who tells time by a solar-powered watch, who wears a sun-faced ring and sun-spotted tie, sweeps into a French restaurant on North Capitol Street in Washington, D.C.

Sklar, who has lived the Solar Energy Industries Association for more than a decade, is bald up top, but his hair sprouts out around that spot in grey-brown brillo. Glasses hug his eyes. His beard threatens to strangle him and his mustache pitches in.