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Fortnightly Magazine - April 2006

Smackdown! Round Three - The Bankruptcy Court vs. FERC

The jurisdictional battle over authorizing rejection of wholesale power contracts continues.

Howard L. Siegel

The high stakes turf battle over whether FERC or the federal bankruptcy courts have jurisdiction over rejecting wholesale power contracts is now in its third round. Round one was fought in 2003 in the NRG bankruptcy case and ended in a settlement among the parties. Round two followed with the Mirant Chapter 11 case. Now punches and counterpunches are flying in round three: the Calpine bankruptcy.

East Vs. West: Growing the Grid

The models and motives behind tomorrow’s transmission expansion.

Bruce W. Radford

Major transmission projects based on two distinct models are showing signs of life. What can these projects teach us about future transmission investment?

The Key to California's Coal Future

Don’t overlook high-quality, project-based emissions reductions.

By Mike Burnett and Bjorn Fischer

Mike Burnett is executive director of the Climate Trust. Bjorn Fischer is business development manager at the Climate Trust. Contact Fischer at bfischer@climatetrust.org. The Climate Trust is a non-profit committed to providing high quality, project-based reductions and advancing the policies that support them. Its offices are located in Portland, Ore.

Energy Hedge Funds: Market Makers or Market Breakers?

Should utilities and consumers be concerned about these obscure investment groups?
By Dan Scotto

The total hedge-fund universe currently approaches $1.1 trillion, about 5 percent of which is dedicated exclusively to energy. These numbers for energy hedge funds are likely to grow at unprecedented rates. How can your company benefit?

“Mysterium tremendum et fascinans”: The Latin phrase, coined by German theologian Rudolf Otto, which characterizes humans as being overwhelmed and fascinated by experiences that are totally different from ordinary life.1

A Primer on Hedge Funds

“Hedge funds … are unregistered private investment partnerships, funds, or pools that may invest and trade in many different markets, strategies, and instruments (including securities, non-securities, and derivatives) and are NOT subject to the same regulatory requirements as mutual funds, including mutual fund requirements to provide certain periodic and standardized pricing and valuation information to investors. There are substantial risks in investing in Hedge Funds.”1

Special Section On Metering: Thinking Smart

Legislation and technology developments give a jump-start to smart metering
By Michael T. Burr

What a difference a year makes. In 2004, automated metering infrastructure (AMI) was in something of a slump, but the Energy Policy Act of 2005, an uptick in natural disasters, and encouraging results from pilot projects have strengthened the business case for investing in AMI.

What a difference a year makes.

In 2004, the automated metering industry was in something of a slump. After the 2003 Northeast blackout, and facing rising gas prices and diminished investor confidence during a time of war, many utilities put automated meter reading (AMR) on the back burner.

Special Section On Metering: Needed in New England: Stronger Market Connections, Savvier Electricity Usage

The region’s retail and wholesale electricity markets should be linked via dynamic pricing.
By Henry Yoshimura, Amr Ibrahim, And Robert Laurita

The time has come to start the transition from the current economic demand-response programs to demand response that arises naturally through market-based retail pricing.

Over the past few decades, utility sponsored conservation and load-management programs have helped thousands of customers better manage their energy costs. While these programs have helped lower overall electricity use, they generally have not provided an economic incentive for customers to reduce their consumption at specific times in response to wholesale electricity prices.

A Hard Look at BPL: Utilities Speak Out

After closer study of the technology’s ongoing implementation and obstacles, the crystal ball remains cloudy.
By Christian Hamaker

What will it take for broadband over power line (BPL) technology to take hold? Is BPL on track to become, as the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) once contemplated, the “third broadband pipe into residential consumers’ homes, providing significant competition for cable and DSL service,” and an integral part of the 21st century “smart grid”?

Deregulation for Real

High power bills, with the lifting of rate freezes, give pause to politicians.
By Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

The Baltimore Sun recently carried a very poignant letter from one of its local readers— a letter that utility executives might well take to heart. Appearing under the title, “Energy Advice Cruel to Poorer Readers,” the letter took offense at an article that trivialized the effect of the huge increase in local electric bills (35 to 72 percent) expected this July with the lifting of a long-standing retail rate freeze.

People

New Opportunities: Southern Nuclear Operating Co. announced that its board of directors elected Joseph (Buzz) Miller as senior vice president of nuclear development. Miller is currently the vice president of government relations for Southern Co.

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