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Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1999

Benchmarks

Chris Leshock, and Patrick Wright

Steep environmental costs mean coal-fired power's competitive edge will drop by half.

A mid increasing pressures to reduce costs, the competitive positions and profitability of U.S. coal-fired power plants will change dramatically in the near-term. Resource Data International Inc.

News Digest

State PUCs

Electric Standard Offers. Connecticut OK'd a regulated standard offer distribution rate of 10.84 cents per kilowatt-hour for United Illuminating Co. The rate included subcomponent rates:

Gen. Shopping Credit 4.52 cents

T&D Regulated Service 3.89 cents

Systems Benefit Charge 0.17 cents

Compet. Transition Charge 1.91 cents

Conservation Funding 0.3 cents

Renewable Energy Funding 0.05 cents

The T&D charge was calculated without backing out unbundled retail transmission subject to FERC jurisdiction. Docket No. 99-03-35, Oct.

Perspective

Ken Cuccinelli

With encryption of name and address - but disclosure of usage and billing - customers can have their cake and eat it too.

How to assure consumer privacy in energy deregulation has utilities, energy marketers and regulators in a dither.

With a deregulating market, utilities must share their consumer data with energy marketers in their territories. The more information energy marketers have about consumers, the better the products, prices and payment plans they can offer. This information, however, may include sensitive details about a consumer's finances and habits.

Off Peak

Not so fast. But gas and electric utilities may follow telecom's hiring boom.

According to the latest labor statistics, employment levels in the communications and public utilities industries remained flat during the past year. (Communications, as defined by the U.S. Labor Department, includes telecommunications.) Rather than indicating a reversal of the declining staff levels at utilities, however, this grouping of industries cloaks hiring growth of nearly 40 percent in communications and continuing cuts in the energy, gas and sanitary services sectors.

U.S.

Electric Restructuring: Before, During and After

Richard Stavros

Five commission chairs from states in all phases of deregulation ponder their changing roles. Will market success make them obsolete?

As most state electric competition plans are implemented within the next few years, regulators face an uncertain future. And they're already reflecting on their role in a changing industry.

Regulatory commissions in both Illinois and California have created panels to discuss the issue and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has held closed-door sessions on the subject.

Electric Transmission: Do State Regulators Still Have a Voice?

Bruce W. Radford

How the FERC's RTO case has split the PUCs into five warring factions.

With momentum building for competition in retail energy markets, and with the real authority seeming to shift to the federal government, do regulators at the state public utility commissions (PUCs) still have a voice in setting policy for the electric transmission grid? After all, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission enjoys exclusive jurisdiction over interstate transmission service. That's the one major utility sector likely to remain heavily regulated for some time.

The Baby and the Bathwater: Utility Competition, But at What Price?

Anne S. Babineau, William E. Taylor, and Matthew M. Weisman

What the Supreme Court thinks about handicapping the incumbent to level the field for new players.

Regulators today sit on the horns of a dilemma: How far to level the field in the name of competition?

If regulators fear market power in the incumbent utility, and so impose restrictions on its activities and assets, they may impair its effectiveness and thus distort the very competition they attempt to foster.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

But does anyone know the real price of power?

You've read the headlines from Maine - how regulators asked for bids for competitive electricity but got prices higher than the old regulated rate.

But it gets worse. The more open the market, the higher the bid.

Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydro-Electric operate within ISO New England, which now is open for competition.

People

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission appointed Bud Earley policy advisor on electric matters. Earley most recently served as director of the electric policy division of the FERC's Office of Economic Policy. The FERC named Bobbie J. McCartney an administrative law judge. She previously served as deputy chief administrative law judge in the Social Security Administration's Office of Hearings and Appeals.

The Bonneville Power Administration named Jeff Stier its new vice president of national relations. Stier joins BPA after 12 years on the staff of Rep.