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Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1999

People

Bob Rowe of the Montana Public Service Commission was elected first vice president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Rowe will continue to serve as chairman of the NARUC Telecommunications Committee for another year.

Duane, Morris & Heckscher LLP added Regina Speed-Bost to its energy group. Speed-Bost is the former legal advisor for natural gas and oil pipeline matters to William L. Massey, commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Charles K.

News Digest

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

Studies & Reports

Year 2000 Readiness. On Jan. 11 the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) predicted a minimal effect on electric system operations from Y2K software problems. The Department of Energy, which had asked NERC to run the electric industry assessment, added that 98 percent of U.S.

News Analysis

Bruce W. Radford

New PRC might revisit PUC orders. By Bruce W. Radford

"The PRC has not necessarily decided what position it will take," said PRC counsel Stacy Goodwin.

"I believe the majority of the PRC will take a slightly different position than the PUC, but there are some legal questions," confirmed Lynda Lovejoy, the newly elected chairman of the Public Regulation Commission.

GAO Study Fans Latest Fire to Threaten Federal PMAs

Lori A. Burkhart

But preference customers still remain a "vocal political force."

With eyes turned again toward Congress, and possible energy legislation, opponents have thrown up yet another challenge to the sale of low-cost, allegedly subsidized power by the federal power marketing administrations. This time, congressional foes of PMAs have gained allies in several investor-owned utilities and in the findings of a report from the U.S. General Accounting Office, requested last year by Congress to aid its deliberations on electric restructuring.

Off Peak

No, but you're doing more in fewer hours.

While utilities continue to pare staff to skeletal levels, the latest labor statistics indicate that employees, though increasingly more productive, are working fewer hours per week.

A comparison of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' December 1997 and preliminary December 1998 statistics indicate that while staff levels continued to decline at electric, gas and sanitary utilities, employees who remain are working 2 percent fewer hours per week.

Electric Competition, One Year Later: Winners and Losers in California

Robert McCullough

The state foots the bill, while northern neighbors profit from a managed power market.

California's electric restructuring plan, launched on April 1, 1998, marks one of the most ambitious attempts in U.S. history to place the state in a social engineering role. Not only was the scale of the project daunting, with implementation cost estimates running as high as $1.2 billion, but the plan places California government in control of the most minute components of the electric system.

How has the experiment gone?

T&D Reliability: The Next Battleground in Re-Regulation

Dan O'Neill

PUCs turn their attention to what they can still control.

The battleground has shifted. Utilities that last year worried about winning customers in pilot programs for retail choice now face public audits on the reliability of transmission and distribution.

With rate cases in remission, no nukes on order and generation planning left to the market, public utility commissions are turning their attention to what they can still regulate. That means service quality. Nor are PUCs the only ones involved.

Distribution Utilities: Forgotten Orphans of Electric Restructuring

Jonathan A. Lesser, Ph.D.

The "duty to connect" demands definition - such as the optimal investment in local wires, and who should pay for it.

As the electric utility industry continues its slow but inexorable transformation into a more "competitive" industry, there has been a notable absence of discussion concerning continued regulation of local distribution utilities, or discos.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

The wires business goes up for grabs as California opens its landmark case on distributed generation.

Jay Morse has studied distributed generation for the past seven years. Today, as an engineer and policy analyst on regulatory transition and market development issues for the California PUC's Office of Ratepayer Advocates, he sits in the eye of the storm. Technology is busting out all over, says Morse, who calls himself the "godfather" of DG in California's electric restructuring.