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Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1998

Mail

Pat Wood III

TEXAS CLARIFICATION. Thank you for the article, "From Statehouse to Your House: The Electric Competition Debate in Texas" (May 15, 1998 issue).

Please allow me to correct one point in that article, however. In discussing variations of distribution costs among utilities serving "deep East" Texas (a region of the state), the author believed me to be referring to Deep East Texas Electric Coop (a utility). Deep East Texas Electric Coop has one of the lowest distribution costs in the state; other neighboring coops in "deep East" Texas are somewhat higher.

Mail

John Andrew Singer

PYRAMIDS FALL. While I enjoyed reading the "Pyramid Schemes" article in your May 1, 1998 issue, as the lead prosecutor in the Federal Trade Commission's action against FutureNet I feel a clarification is in order. While the FTC's complaint focused on FutureNet's Internet access program, certain concerns attach to any program which focuses on recruitment since one of the hallmarks of a pyramid is the lack of any relationship between the compensation paid to a distributor for recruiting and the sale of any product. (Webster v. Omnitrition International Inc., 79 F. 3d 776, 781 [9th Cir.

Benchmarks

Todd A. Myers

BY 2010, SOME $21.8 BILLION WORTH OF EMISSION control technologies will have to be installed at steam-generating plants to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

Increased costs at these plants will boost power prices. These higher costs and higher revenues will increase profits of the five least competitive companies will lose $1 billion.

Power companies must increasingly incorporate environmental factors into strategic planning.

News Digest

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

Power Pools & Reliability

SUMMER IN WISCONSIN. Responding to concerns about the electric shortages of the summer of 1997 and fears that they could happen again, Wisconsin PSC Commissioner Joseph P. Mettner has indicated that the state's energy supply outlook for the summer of 1998 appears much better in eastern Wisconsin than it did one year ago.

Mettner noted that Wisconsin's electric supply system is operating with expected reserve margins of 19.2 percent. But he cautioned that electric power flows do not respect borders.

Perspective

John B. Howe

IN RECENT YEARS, THE high demand for local exchange codes from incumbent local exchange carriers and new competitors has mandated scores of new area codes across the United States, created through processes that generate a high degree of local controversy. Yet even after the new area codes are created, the demand for exchange codes for local calling areas continues unabated, leading in some cases to the exhaustion of exchange codes within brand new area codes in as little as two to three years -- a period much shorter than their expected life.

Special Report

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

DOES THE KYOTO CLIMATE CHANGE TREATY POSE A SEVERE threat to the U.S. economy or is that claim simply a "Chicken Little" prediction of detractors?

Pro-business Republicans, environmentalist bureaucrats and industry observers debated the merits of each position at the Ninth Annual Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington, D.C., on June 10.

One of the most vociferous opponents of the treaty was Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wisc.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, who headed the Congressional delegation to Kyoto, Japan.

Other speakers included Ambassador Stuart E.

Off Peak

AMERICAN SUPPORT FOR FEDERAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs is increasing. Conversely, American support of nuclear power and fossil fuels is on the decline.

That's according to a recent survey, America Speaks Out on Energy: A Survey of Federal Energy Funding Priorities, conducted by the Sustainable Energy Coalition.

A thousand registered voters were asked about federal energy budget issues.

Will the Sun Set on PUCs?

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

WHEN 42 PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSIONERS HUDDLED in private recently at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver to discuss their roles come 2003, they came to a striking conclusion: Someday they might be out of business. Some said it would take five years, others said as long as 10.

"There was quite a bit of discussion and interest in commissions actually formulating what they call an 'exit plan,' by which they meant, in a kind of systematic way ... being prepared to wind back on their regulatory oversight," says Douglas N.

California's Electric Market: Are Customers Necessary?

Robert McCullough

A FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION UNDER CALIFORNIA's NEW electricity framework is, "Where have all the suppliers gone?" At a recent industry symposium, one large customer noted during negotiations with competitive energy suppliers that all five finalists had disappeared. The experience at my firm has been so draconian, but I have found that it is not unusual for half of the finalists to disappear in the bargaining. And when I say "disappear," I'm talking about something more extreme than simply reaching an irreconcilable difference.

FERC's Plan for Electric Competition

Wallace Edward Brand

WHY IS ELECTRICITY COMPETITION NOT WORKING? The principal reason is the failure of Order 888 to accommodate the economic and technological constraints of wholesale power markets.

Soon after Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 1992, to give authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to compel electric utilities under its jurisdiction to wheel power for others, the FERC correctly recognized that piecemeal wheeling orders wouldn't work well without a tariff. A tariff would make the service quickly available to the user without the need for time-consuming negotiation.

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