Utility executives face volatile energy markets, skyrocketing fuel prices, and changing federal energy policies. How are utilities benefiting from the turnaround in energy trading?
of the more stringent eight-hour standard. The comment period for that proposal, which was issued Oct. 20, was extended until Jan. 3, 2000.
And the EPA got a boost on Dec. 21, in the case of Lignite Energy Council v. EPA, when the D.C. Circuit upheld the EPA's new source performance standards for Nox emissions from industrial and electric utility boilers. Those standards reflect the level of emissions achievable by what the EPA considers as the best demonstrated system of emissions reduction for new plants: the use of selective catalytic reduction. Said the Court:
"In light of EPA's unchallenged findings showing that the new standards will only modestly increase the cost of producing electricity in newly constructed boilers, we do not think that EPA exceeded its considerable discretion under [Clean Air Act] sec. 111."
At last count the cap-and-trade program was still a "go." And while it remains the control remedy for the Section 126 petitions, the program could be available to states that voluntarily present a state implementation plan to meet the requirements.
Carl J. Levesque is associate editor at Public Utilities Fortnightly. Assisting on this story was Lori A. Burkhart, contributing legal editor.
**Transmission & ISOs
Next-Hour Service. In late December, the North American Electric Reliability Council told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it hoped to provide the details for its new "next-hour" transmission service by Jan. 31, as it still was working on specifications for tagging and compliance with OASIS rules.
The FERC had OK'd the service on Dec. 16, providing a "leftover" market for unused non-firm transmission capacity. Customers would reserve transmission service for one hour when the request is made no more than 60 minutes prior to commencement of service, but at the lowest curtailment priority-the priority assigned to non-firm service to secondary receipt and delivery points. Previously, customers seeking hourly transmission service would submit a reservation by 2 p.m. the day before. See Docket No. ER00-157-000, Dec. 16, 199, 89 FERC par. 61,277, and letter filed Dec. 22, 1999.
Alliance RTO. Saying it was "conditionally authorizing" their application to transfer power grid facilities to a regional transmission organization, the FERC nevertheless imposed additional requirements on the Alliance Companies (FirstEnergy, Consumers Energy, Detroit Edison, Virginia Power and American Electric Power) that would appear to make the proposal problematic, such as expanding its geographic scope to include natural selling (Chicago) and buying (western Pennsylvania and New York) areas.
Vicky Bailey recused herself and Curt Hebert dissented, claiming that the conditions far exceeded requirements in the FERC's final rule governing RTOs, Docket Nos. ER99-3144-000, EC99-80-000, Dec. 20, 1999, 89 FERC par. 61,298.
Earlier, on Dec. 8, the Alliance group had proposed a dispute resolution process to settle disputes between RTOs and allow neighboring RTOs to participate in coordinated regional planning and develop reciprocity pricing.
Wisconsin Transco. Wisconsin Power & Light Co. formally asked the FERC for authority to transfer both ownership and operational control of its transmission facilities to a new Wisconsin transmission company created by state law to own and operate the state's high-voltage grid system. FERC