Does inappropriate market power explain the increase during late 2005?
Howard M. Spinner
Beginning around June 2005, prices in the PJM day-ahead locational market pricing energy markets and real-time pricing markets rose precipitously. Based on publicly available information, our study concludes that these price increases are not fully explained by higher loads and higher commodity fuel prices. Could higher energy prices be the result of the inappropriate exercise of market power rather than the appropriate result of market dynamics operating in the presence of scarcity?
Sweeping revisions to Order 888 are needed before true wholesale competition can take place.
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
There’s been a lot of talk in the industry about new super powers for market enforcement, conferred by Congress on FERC in last year’s energy legislation. But this hasn’t been the case entirely. Many believe that FERC still labors at a disadvantage.
(June 2006) Mirant Corp. appointed Jose (Joey) P. Leviste Jr. as chairman, president, and CEO of Mirant Philippines, and as a senior vice president of Mirant Corp. Ian C. Connor joined Goldman Sachs in 2006 as a managing director in its Power & Energy Group. Unitil Corp. shareholders elected Robert G. Schoenberger, Charles H. Tenney III, and Dr. Sarah P. Voll to its board of directors. Piedmont Natural Gas announced several changes in the company’s executive management team.
New technologies are helping windpower mature as a viable power supply choice for utilities.
Michael T. Burr
Few people understand how to ride shifting winds better than Jim Dehlsen does. Dehlsen founded Zond Energy Systems 25 years ago, and steered the company through a series of major changes and challenges—the oil-price collapse of the 1980s; ambivalent energy policies, with on-again, off-again production tax credits; and the sale of controlling interests in Zond to Enron in the late 1990s. Should it come as any surprise, then, that Dehlsen still is bullish on windpower’s prospects?
The resource overbuild in the West complicates the company’s efforts.
Gary L. Hunt and Devrim Albuz
Calpine’s announcement that it will shed 20 of its 92 power plants, close three offices, and lay off 775 more staff in a bid to emerge from bankruptcy caused by more than $22 billion in total debt was not unexpected. The question is whether these actions will be sufficient to get the job done.
How cutting-edge military technologies can help solve some of the industry’s most critical issues.
Whether it’s an aging workforce, the impact of competitive markets, or an outdated transmission system, today’s energy and utility organizations are facing a whole new set of challenges. What many people in the industry don’t realize is that the utility sector is not the first to face these kinds of issues. The U.S. military is dealing with, or has dealt with, a strikingly similar set of problems in recent years.
When I became the Consumers’ Counsel for the state of Ohio in April 2004, natural-gas prices were hovering between $7/Mcf and $8/Mcf (thousand cubic feet). In the next year and a half, Ohioans saw gas prices double, peaking at a residential statewide average of $16.89/Mcf in the month of September 2005. The latter reflects the exacerbation of prices, already high, by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the gulf region. The purpose of this article is not to focus on the national security and energy independence issues that arise from these circumstances, but rather to examine what we can do in the United States to ensure affordable and reliable supplies for residential consumers in both the short and long term.
The old paradigm—a strong inverse correlation of high interest rates and lower utility valuations—once again takes hold.
Ian C. Connor
The recent breakout of the benchmark 10-Year Treasury yield from the recent mid-4 percent yield band to approximately 5 percent (with some market expectation that it may increase further) potentially has important strategic and value implications for the power and utility industry.
Does too much risk management mean leaving money on the table?
Why do energy merchants or those utilities with merchant power divisions obsess over “selling” their upside? These companies feel compelled to show steady, predictable profit streams to both the street and their stakeholders, despite the fact that they operate within one of the most volatile markets in the world. Typically, their method of achieving earnings consistency centers on the execution of complicated purchase and sales agreements that effectively lock in the price of fuel and electricity. Don’t these contracts really just eliminate the potential positive return an energy merchant strives to achieve in the first place?
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