VIRGINIA QUESTIONS NUCLEAR WASTE FUND PAYMENTS TO FEDS
SEPTEMBER 15, 1995
Green power beats a renewables mandate, says SoCalEd exec, while a consultant questions assumptions about distributed generation.
I have to agree with the lead sentence in Bruce W. Radford's Oct. 1 Frontlines editorial ("We Got Green?" p. 4). You really "don't quite get it about green power."
Frankly, after reading [reams] of Fortnightly editorials touting the benefits of the new free markets in electricity, I was astounded to see you disparaging the business of satisfying clearly revealed consumer preferences. You say that green power is "not a product," but rather "a gimmick," and that "the green power mind-set is locked in the wholesale world, clueless about what it takes to perfect real products."
Horsefeathers! If customers care about it and are willing to pay for it, then it's a retail product, plain and simple. Green marketing may be just a "niche" market, but so are all the rest.
I share your view that restructuring has far outstripped the ingenuity of retailers to offer consumers truly concrete end-use innovations. But I'm confident the electricity equivalents of call-waiting, answering machines and pagers will eventually arrive as information technology infiltrates metering and power control equipment design.
In the meantime, let's not disparage one of the clear retailing successes. One of the real benefits of restructuring is the privatization of previously socialized risk-taking in generation. Personally, I'd certainly rather see green marketing support the development of renewables on a free-market basis than see Congress resurrect a moribund Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act program by adopting some mandatory renewables portfolio standard. Wouldn't you?
John L. Jurewitz
Manager, Regulatory Policy
Southern California Edison
This letter concerns the two distributed resources articles in your Oct. 15 issue. ("Paradigm Buster: Why Distributed Power Will Rewrite Open-Access Rules," p. 22, and "Distributed Generation: Last Big Battle for State Regulators?" p. 34.)
Both articles make assumptions. They value energy based on the cost components expressed in current tariff structure. In doing so, they totally ignore the locational values of distributed generation (DG) that central generation cannot participate in. What is more important-energy's commodity cost or its impact on the cost of goods? These values are very different.
They also ignore the risk issue by failing to compare DG's mean time between failure (MTBF) and mean time to repair (MTTR) to that of the grid.
Overall I agree with the points of view expressed in both articles. It is in their assumptions that I differ. The utilities business is like a religion: exquisite, well-crafted arguments perfected over a long time and based around certain assumptions. Invalidate those assumptions and how much of the argument survives?
William S. Shanner
Fort Collins, Colo.
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