Grid system operators now hold the cards. That means a bidding war for talent and a new wave of mergers.
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CP&L + Fla. Progress. North Carolina OK'd the merger of CP&L Energy Inc. and Florida Progress Corp., on condition that if a regional transmission organization (RTO) is not formed in time to accommodate RTO filing deadlines at the FERC, so that CP&L opts to join a different RTO other than one "with a southeastern focus," then state regulators may require CP&L to withdraw and join a southeastern RTO, once such a group is formed. .
Out-of-State Exports. Dismissing concerns that new merchant power plants might export power out of state, a New York siting board denied rehearing on its prior order that had authorized the construction and operation by Athens Generating Co. L.P. (AGC) of a 1,080-MW power plant.
The board, rejecting intervenor arguments that the facility will not be required to serve the state only, reiterated its position from its original order approving the plant that "regionalization of the power market benefits all states" and that even out-of-state sales would enhance in-state reliability, given that plant owners must comply with ISO rules for dispatch and security.
The board said that because grid capacity to New England was limited, the new plant might find it more profitable to sell in New York during constraints. It rejected intervenor claims that the plant owners might act "irrationally" and sell at a loss in New England. "It is not reasonable to conclude that the applicant will act in a manner diametrically opposed to its financial interests." .
Out-of-State Imports. North Carolina regulators allowed Carolina Power & Light Co. to relocate two combustion turbine generators already approved for installation, noting that relocation would enhance reliability by making CP&L less dependent on other utility transmission systems for importing power to meet load. Company witness Verne Ingersoll had testified that growing offsystem power imports were pushing the limits of transmission capacity. .
Utility Marketing Affiliates . A group of four investor-owned electric utilities failed to get an Illinois court to strike down the state's 1997 electric customer choice law as unconstitutional or to overturn rules adopted under the act that imposed restrictions on utilities in their dealings with marketing affiliates.
- The court said that a ban against joint advertising and marketing efforts by utilities and affiliates did not violate corporate rights to commercial free speech.
- It held that the state commission did not violate the 1997 law when it barred electric utilities from offering to their affiliates different terms and conditions on regulated services than those offered to unaffiliated alternative retail energy service (ARES) companies. Nor did it err when it barred utilities from requiring customers to buy energy from a utility affiliate to qualify for special billing offers from the utility, or when it required utilities to compile and post information on the Internet regarding availability of competitive ARES firms.
- Third, the court upheld commission rules forcing utilities to offer the same rebates, discounts, or fee waivers to ARES customers that they offer to the customers of their own marketing affiliates, regardless of whether the service