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Fortnightly Magazine - February 15 1999

Benchmarks

Christopher Seiple

The future contract for July delivery at cinergy remains at levels reminiscent of last year's prices. At one point the contract reached $170 per megawatt-hour, matching last year's actual average price during June and July. High forward contract prices such as this show that market traders believe that spot prices for electricity will again be sent to four-digit levels.

Three primary factors led to last year's price spikes. First, nearly 23 percent of the capacity in the Midwest was unavailable during June.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Carl J. Levesque

Studies and Reports

Natural Gas Retail Choice. Utility affiliates hold large market shares in natural gas customer choice programs, raising questions about the extent of true competition, according to a study released on Dec. 15 by the U.S. General Accounting Office. Participation varies by region, however, according to the report, "Energy Deregulation - Status of Natural Gas Customer Choice Programs."

In Pennsylvania, for example, three out of four programs showed very high shares for utility affiliates. The Equitable Gas Co.

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