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Fortnightly Magazine - March 2004

Capital Reserve Margins: Hardly Adequate

A pseudonymous executive tells why the CCRO's recommendations don't pass muster.
David Anthony

A pseudonymous executive tells why the CCRO's recommendations don't pass muster.

The latest splash from the Committee of Chief Risk Officers1 (CCRO)-a new white paper regarding capital adequacy for energy companies2-makes barely a ripple. While an improvement over the CCRO's previous efforts,3 the capital adequacy recommendations do not provide adequate standards that can be implemented consistently by energy companies.

Pricing Power in Whosesale Markets: A Risky Business

A Risky Business Utilities wrestle with how much to charge for their product.
Dr. Lawrence Haar

A Risky Business Utilities wrestle with how much to charge for their product.

The trading model has many good points, including the imposition of market discipline upon both transfer prices and prices to external third parties. Trading also encourages the use of resources and capital at their market value and the cultivation of specialized skills within different business units. But applying the model, particularly to the risks of power pricing, continues to be a challenge.

Retail Risk-Based Pricing

A new approach to rate design.
Gary Dorris and Sean Burrows

A new approach to rate design.

As energy markets have evolved in the late 1990s away from cost-based transactions to competitive market-based transactions, the exposure to market risks for the variable cost of supply has substantially increased.1 Reflected in these market risks are the diminishing reserves for North American gas supply, which has created conditions of extreme volatility in gas supply. The added market risk is compounded by the sensitivity of some retail load customers to weather conditions.

The Road Not Taken

Revisiting performance-based rates with endogenous market designs.
Francis J. Cronin and Stephen A. Motluk

Revisiting performance-based rates with endogenous market designs.

More than 20 years ago in the pages of this publication, economist William Baumol outlined a method by which the regulation of public utility monopolies could be streamlined while simultaneously providing incentives for efficiency and productivity growth.1 Baumol proposed a productivity incentive clause that adjusts rates automatically according to the formula,

The Reliability Spending Conundrum

What is the right and prudent level of spending on service?
Daniel O'Neill

What is the right and prudent level of spending on service?

Times have changed for electric utilities. The combination of deregulation, mergers, major storms, and widespread outages has shifted the industry's emphasis to reliability. That wasn't always true. Even 20 years ago, the growth of load was adding so much to ratebases and driving such large rate increases that regulators spent a lot of time reviewing plans for capacity additions-and challenging utilities for over-spending.

NERC's Cloudy Crystal Ball

How much confidence do NERC demand forecasts warrant?
Tom Replogle

How much confidence do NERC demand forecasts warrant?

Independent consultants must properly estimate peak demand growth if they are to provide clients with reasonable market analysis. Some consultants defer to the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) on this matter because NERC bases its projections on utility-specific estimates developed with more information than consultants typically can access. NERC recently rolled out new demand growth forecasts, so the time seems right to explore whether this confidence is justified or misplaced.

Frontlines

Do-nothing regulators scare off investment, raising prospects for yet another large-scale power failure.
Richard Stavros

Frontlines

Do-nothing regulators scare off investment, raising prospects for yet another large-scale power failure.

Last summer's blackout is slowly fading from the radar screen. The silver lining that might have moved some to action has now tarnished.

People

New Opportunities:
We welcome submissions to People, especially those accompanied by a high-resolution color photograph. E-mail to: photos@pur.com

People

New Opportunities:

Allegheny Energy named Max Kuniansky director of investor relations. He previously held the position of vice president of investor relations for B/E Aerospace and investor relations specialist for FPG Group Inc.

Benchmarks

Strange bedfellows may provide a new supply option.
Brandon Owens

Benchmarks

Strange bedfellows may provide a new supply option.

Justifiable concerns associated with high natural gas prices have led analysts to consider the implications for new capacity development over the next decade. Expectations regarding the continued dominance of natural gas-fired units have begun to change. For example, in its , the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects 112 GW of new coal-fired generating capacity to be constructed between 2003 and 2025-a 51 percent increase over EIA's 2003 forecast.

Perspective

Wisconsinites don't fear 'Day 2.' But let's get the grid rights right.
Robert M. Garvin

Perspective

Wisconsinites don't fear 'Day 2.' But let's get the grid rights right.

While working for the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC), I have grown accustomed to the friendly advice frequently offered by regulatory colleagues and utility executives in higher-cost areas to the East.

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