Is the predicted crisis this winter a failure of policy, the market, or both?
Given the free market in natural gas, why haven't prices attracted the needed infrastructure or supply? (LNG imports are actually down from last year.) What policies could have been contemplated ahead of national legislation? Or put more simply, why has supply lagged demand?
PPL Corp. named C. Joseph Hopf, vice president of energy trading for Goldman Sachs in New York, as PPL's lead energy marketing executive. PG&E Corp. elected President and CEO Peter A. Darbee to the additional position of chairman of the boards of directors for the corporation and its utility unit, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Executive Vice President and COO Thomas B. King was elected the utility's president and CEO, as well as a member of the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. board of directors. Also, PG&E Corp. and its utility unit, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., made seven new appointments at the officer level. And others...
Seven years after restructuring, challenges remain. Should the region stay the course?
Gordon van Welie
Electric restructuring—identified in some quarters with Enron, California, and the August 2003 blackout—has brought significant, measurable benefits to us in New England. Seven years after restructuring began, it's a good time to assess the challenges that remain and gauge whether to stay the course toward continued restructuring.
FERC mulls rival plans at the last minute, while on the West Coast, California gets into the game.
Bruce W. Radford
FERC, the ISO, and many other parties had seen no reason for further debate over the need for a location-specific capacity market. By limiting debate, FERC had foreclosed a raft of competing ideas. When the moment finally arrived for the oral argument at FERC, attorneys and witnesses attempted valiantly in the precious few minutes allotted each speaker to flesh out new ideas, and the commissioners struggled as well to keep up. This highly unusual situation made for a helter-skelter hearing, with new topics seeming to come out of the woodwork.
Utility companies are at a crossroads when it comes to managing their pension plans. They must determine the best ways to continue to offer this benefit while controlling the impact these plans have on the overall financial health of the organization.
The nation's critical electric infrastructure is still too vulnerable to outages.
Greg Aliff and Branko Terzic
The Sept. 12, 2005, electricity blackout of most of the city of Los Angeles demonstrates the continuing vulnerability of the nation's electric infrastructure. Although the cause of the Los Angeles outage was accidental, it exposed a glaring weakness: cable line breaks are an attractive, easy target for terrorists, because the U.S. electric network has thousands of miles of unguarded transmission and distribution lines.
State regulators grapple with investments, supply planning, and structural issues.
Michael T. Burr
The opposing challenges of higher gas prices and rising environmental concerns have put utility regulators in a difficult position: How can they bring rate stability while minimizing environmental impacts? At the same time, they are grappling with trends in consolidation, competition, transmission planning, and distribution service quality. Each state brings a different view of the changing utility landscape. For insight, Fortnightly brought together regulators from several states to discuss their plans and priorities for today and the future.
Congress revamps LNG and storage, giving broad new powers to FERC. Why the Feds still must consult with local authorities.
A major objective of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) is to counter the worsened conditions in the natural-gas market that began in 2000 and are expected to continue over the next several years—namely, tight natural-gas supplies and high, volatile gas prices caused by a distinct shift in the supply-demand balance. Any noticeable reductions in gas prices that might be effectuated by the act will have little impact on natural-gas prices for a number of years.
Congress allows market-based rates. How will FERC respond?
J. Michel Marcoux
As a rare amendment to a venerable statute, EPACT05 § 312, New Natural Gas Storage Facilities, made headlines, adding an option for interstate, market-based storage rate making. It would encourage new storage facilities by permitting FERC to authorize market-based storage rates, even when the applicant is unable to demonstrate it lacks market power. After authorizing such rates, FERC periodically must review them.The problem with the new law is that it does not specify those review periods.
Public Utilities Reports 11410 Isaac Newton Sq., Suite 220, Reston, VA 20190 Voice: (703) 847-7720 | Toll Free: (800) 368-5001 FAX: (703) 847-0683
Dear Reader: Welcome to our new website! We’ve spent the past several months rebuilding Fortnightly.com from the ground up, and we’re now in the process of putting it through its paces. We’ll announce our Grand Opening shortly, but in the meantime we hope you’ll excuse our mess, while we bring Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine to an all-new online platform. Your feedback is welcome!