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Fortnightly Magazine - July 2004

Perspective

Commission policies need to recognize customer obligations and state commission decisions.
Michael McGrath

Perspective

Commission policies need to recognize customer obligations and state commission decisions.

Even the best of intentions can create unintended consequences. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has acted aggressively and appropriately during the past few years to stimulate competitive wholesale electricity markets.

Commission Watch

Incentive regulation is not a cure-all for the continuing controversy over return on equity.
Jonathan A. Lesser

Commission Watch

Incentive regulation is not a cure-all for the continuing controversy over return on equity.

Regulated utilities are all too familiar with the contentious disputes that surround how the allowed return on equity (ROE) is set in a traditional cost-of-service setting. These disputes, which are reappearing as numerous utility rate-stabilization plans signed as part of deregulation come to an end, are likely to hinge, as always, on the riskiness of utility operating environments.

Business & Money

An analysis of the strategic implications of the re-basing of power and utility industry valuations.
Ian Connor

Business & Money

An analysis of the strategic implications of the re-basing of power and utility industry valuations.

Over the past several months, traditional valuation levels have re-emerged in the power and utility industry, with recent premium valuation metrics compressing significantly.

Technology Corridor

Fundamentals in the energy markets are converging to increase the need for incremental gas storage.
Jamie Craddock and Bill Hogue

Technology Corridor

Fundamentals in the energy markets are converging to increase the need for incremental gas storage.

The natural gas market is approaching a dramatic turning point. The fundamentals in the energy markets are converging to increase the need for incremental gas storage and the way that storage is used and valued by the customer community. Why is new storage needed? What will it take for new storage to be developed? What do customers need to commit to new storage projects?

Northwest Passage: BPA's Changing Role

The treacherous journey toward a more efficient and transparent Northwest power market may be nearing its conclusion.
Michael T. Burr

The treacherous journey toward a more efficient and transparent Northwest power market may be nearing its conclusion.

Steve Wright stands at the helm of an agency with a seemingly impossible task. As CEO and administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Wright must serve a broad spectrum of interests, from aluminum smelters to sockeye salmon. And no matter what he or anyone does, it's impossible to make them all happy at the same time.

Of Blackouts and Lawsuits

Class-action claims for widespread utility service interruptions are a growing trend.
Gavin J. Rooney and Nicole Bearce Albano

Class-action claims for widespread utility service interruptions are a growing trend.

During the dog days of summer, a severe heat wave settles over the service territory of an electric utility. Electricity demand reaches an all-time peak as customers turn their air conditioners to the highest setting. Service interruptions occur throughout the utility's territory as high loads and low voltages cause breakers to trip, fuses to operate, transformers to overheat, and equipment to fail.

Acceding to Succeed

How joining the EU may transform the Central and Eastern European electricity sectors
Bridgett Neely and A.J. Goulding

How joining the EU may transform the Central and Eastern European electricity sectors

It is not coincidental that energy assets are for sale across Central and Eastern Europe the same year that 10 new countries join the European Union (EU). New member states had to demonstrate significant sector reforms to qualify for EU membership. These sectors have historically had miserable economic results due to artificially maintained low prices, poor and often corrupt management, and significant political interference.

Transmission Investment: All Talk and Little Action

Except for local reinforcements and new generation interconnections, few transmission construction proposals are moving forward.
Eric Hirst

Except for local reinforcements and new generation interconnections, few transmission construction proposals are moving forward.

There's plenty of talk about transmission, says Theo Mullen. "But real action on transmission construction is scant," he adds. "Conferences and reports abound. Projects of all sizes are being proposed. But, except for local reinforcements and new generation interconnections, few transmission construction proposals are moving forward. The vast majority of larger projects are stalled for lack of financial commitment."1

The Devil in the Transmission Data

Untapped T&D measurement data could make the difference on reliability.
David Kreiss and J.D. Hammerly

Untapped T&D measurement data could make the difference on reliability.

Utility executives rely on sound decision making to determine how resources should be allocated, to ensure that systems operate with a maximum efficiency and reliability at the lowest cost. These executives walk the fine line of deciding where money should be spent to minimize the likelihood of an expensive catastrophe while also achieving a targeted level of reliability. These issues include:

Frontlines

Critics say FERC's filed rate doctrine is wrong for the times.
Richard Stavros

Frontlines

Critics say FERC's filed rate doctrine is wrong for the times.

It's quite remarkable how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been able to pound a square peg into a round hole. With not much more than a wink and a smile, FERC has taken a depression-era law meant for monopolies-the Federal Power Act (FPA)-and has made it serve double duty as a foundation for competitive power markets.

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