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Fortnightly Magazine - May 2004

Benchmarks

Unless gas prices stabilize, coal prices will continue rising.
Tom Woods

Benchmarks

Unless gas prices stabilize, coal prices will continue rising.

Gas prices to power plants have surged in 2003, increasing more than 50 percent over their 2002 level. In absolute terms, this gas price in-crease exceeds $2/MMBtu-almost two thirds larger than average coal prices to power plants in 2003-and has rekindled interest in new coal-fired power plants. An increasing number of new coal-fired projects have been announced in the last 12 months.

Perspective

Why Ontario needs a competitive market.
A.J. Goulding

Perspective

Why Ontario needs a competitive market.

For the past two years, the Ontario power sector has resembled a piñata at a children's birthday party, batted this way and that by the stick of public policy. Since the competitive wholesale market opened in 2002, the government twice has intervened to manage prices to final consumers.

Commission Watch

The commission's power grab over bankruptcy courts condemns merchants to a corporate netherworld.
Kenneth Irvin and Robert Loeffler

Commission Watch

The commission's power grab over bankruptcy courts condemns merchants to a corporate netherworld.

Since we last visited the conflict between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and bankruptcy courts over who decides whether a debtor can terminate unprofitable power contracts,1 a new district court decision out of Texas has come down tilting the field in favor of FERC's assertion of exclusive authority.

Business & Money

A spate of proposed U.S. tax rule changes soon may open a window of opportunity for certain utilities.
Todd M. Landau, Tadd A. Fowler, and Craig King

Business & Money

A spate of proposed U.S. tax rule changes soon may open a window of opportunity for certain utilities.

In the mid-1990s, before the rise of the Internet and the fall of Enron changed the calculus of business investing and the regulatory landscape, the historically staid U.S. utility industry began to be viewed as a "growth play." This triggered a global buying spree that led U.S. companies to invest tens of billions of dollars in electricity generation and distribution businesses all over the world.

Metering and Billing: Building a Better Pricing System

Two-part real-time pricing reflects the two-part pricing found in other business sectors.

Michael O'Sheasy

Georgia Power Co., Duke Power Co., and their customers have reaped the benefits of two-part real-time pricing (RTP) for nearly 10 years. This structure has been a perfectly acceptable and efficient means to price electricity, but a second structure for pricing electricity can now be introduced. Either structure is sound and efficacious. Each methodology has its advantages, and utilities should consider which method best serves their needs.

CIS: The new Profit Machine

How IT can allow utilities to invest in customers-and even improve returns-without breaking the bank.
Lori A. Burkhart

How IT can allow utilities to invest in customers-and even improve returns-without breaking the bank.

A high quality customer information system (CIS) at a utility company can build revenue streams and promote customer loyalty. But while those are admirable goals, it is not that simple to wade through all the various CIS systems and figure out what a company needs in order to achieve those benefits.

FERC's GulfTerra Orders: Chnages in the Pipeline

A new FERC decision veers away from congressional intent not to burden intrastate pipelines with interstate policies.
J. Michel Marcoux

A new FERC decision veers away from congressional intent not to burden intrastate pipelines with interstate policies.

State commissions can set intrastate natural gas pipeline transportation rates except when the intrastate pipeline moves gas in interstate commerce. Then, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates the rates under evolving Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 (NGPA) standards. Two recent FERC orders in a GulfTerra Texas Pipeline L.P.

Preparing for a Nuclear Exchange

Three ways to value nuclear power plants for buyers and sellers.
Michael J. Remsha, P.E., ASA, CMI

Three ways to value nuclear power plants for buyers and sellers.

Appraisers don't make the market-they reflect it. But when the market speaks, appraisers listen. The appraiser must use judgment, experience, and common sense to correlate the final conclusion of value for a subject plant, basing the conclusion on market indicators.

Triggering Nuclear Development

What construction cost might prompt orders for new nuclear power plants in Texas?
Geoffrey Rothwell

What construction cost might prompt orders for new nuclear power plants in Texas?

Electricity generation deregulation has opened U.S. wholesale electricity markets to unregulated power producers. In this uncertain environment, how should a generating company evaluate the risk of investing in new capacity?1

Frontlines

Utilities have little to show for the millions they pay in campaign contributions.
Richard Stavros

Frontlines

Utilities have little to show for the millions they pay in campaign contributions.

If Donald Trump could call Congress on the carpet, he would send lawmakers packing with those two now infamous words, "You're fired!"

Trump, at the conclusion of each episode of his reality TV show "The Apprentice," dumps an unlucky job candidate for failing to complete that show's business assignment to his liking.

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