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Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1999

No Pain, No Gain: Interoperable Systems Elude Gas Industry

Regina R. Johnson

With so much at stake, why don't utilities ask vendors for plug and play?

Everyone agrees that competitive retail energy markets need interoperable information systems. Otherwise, the high cost of switching proprietary metering and data communications systems could offset savings from customer choice. Standardization reduces the costs of automating operations - also crucial for competitive companies. Interoperable "plug and play" systems can free companies of dependence on expensive, single-sourced equipment. So why do most utility systems remain incompatible from vendor to vendor?

We Got Green?

<p>Not hardly. And now the FTC would leave consumers in the dark on some environmental claims.</p>

Bruce W. Radford

The green power mind-set is locked in the wholesale world, clueless about what it takes to perfect real consumer products.

People

Stephen W. Bergstrom was named president and chief operating officer of Dynegy Inc. Bergstrom formerly was president and COO of Dynegy Marketing and Trade and senior vice president of Dynegy Inc.

Texas-New Mexico Power Co. promoted Robert E. Castillo to vice president and regional customer officer for its Mountain Region. Castillo, formerly assistant vice president-New Mexico, replaces Allan Davis, who retired after 34 years with TNMP.

William W. Schivley was named president of Select Energy, Northeast Utilities System's marketing affiliate.

News Digest

State PUCs

Gas Capacity Rights. The New York PSC told retail suppliers that to serve firm retail gas load they must have rights to firm, non-recallable, primary delivery point pipeline capacity for the five winter months, November through March, or else must augment secondary capacity with a standby charge payable to local distribution companies holding primary rights.

Stranded Costs for a "Hungry" Utility

Bruce W. Radford

Even the FERC's own lawyers urge a new rule when a customer leaves a utility that already has too little capacity.

In a brief filed Aug. 18, staff counsel Theresa Burns and Diane Schratwieser urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to rethink its policy on wholesale stranded costs when a customer threatens to leave but the utility is so short of generating capacity that it can easily make up any lost revenues by reallocating the reserves to other native load customers at prevailing, regulated embedded-cost retail rates.

Rate Differentials Revisited

John S. Ferguson

Bigger payoffs for larger electric customers should surprise no one, says one exec, while a consultant blames the Fortnightly for obscuring the point.

It is not surprising that authors Bierman, Nelson and Stover ("Anomalies in Residential Electric Rates: Harbinger of Competition?" Public Utilities Fortnightly, July 15, 1999) found an increasing differential between residential and industrial rates. It also is not surprising that there is a correlation with deregulation activities. This situation is the natural result of competition causing subsidies to unwind.

Off Peak

Regina R. Johnson

Federal data suggest it's not so in an "electrifying" economy.

Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States remained relatively flat last year, despite 4 percent U.S. economic growth. Although one year's data does not a trend make, the federal statistics seem to fly in the face of the notion that strict emissions cuts threaten the economy by raising energy prices and unemployment. Instead, says technology strategist Mark P. Mills, the figures evince a decade-old shift toward an electricity-driven economy.

According to the U.S.

The Role of Power Exchanges in Restructured Electric Markets

Becky Kilbourne, and George Sladoje

As the FERC ponders RTO structure, California's incumbent PX defends its unique design.

The great California debate - what role and structure for a power exchange? - once again is rearing its head, this time on the national scene. The resurgence of interest in regional transmission organizations, or RTOs, spurred by the recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking[fn.1] issued in May by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, raises questions about the relationship between RTOs (designed primarily to manage grid operations) and power exchanges (seen as vehicles to facilitate trading).

Power Exchange Politics: Weighing the Regulator's Role

Richard Stavros, and Bruce W. Radford

Federal and state interests clash as the FERC battles California over the future of the state's power exchange.

The California Power Exchange will not outlive its four-year mandate because it cannot compete with lower-cost exchanges, such as the New York Mercantile Exchange, Automated Power Exchange and low-cost over-the-counter brokers. So says Edward Cazalet, chief executive officer at Automated Power Exchange and chief rival of the CalPX.

Automated Meter Reading: If, Then When?

Carl J. Levesque

AMRA's annual symposium addresses potential payoffs and lingering concerns about the technology.

The annual Automated Meter Reading Symposium, Sept. 26-29 in Reno, Nev., finds AMR a year further along in its evolution in terms of both implementation and ideas for application and usage.

But while a few electric utilities have embraced AMR and others will arrive at the symposium ready to make purchases, some uncertainty remains for others as to the what, when and how of the technology.

How Soon is Now?

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