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Fortnightly Magazine - November 2007

RECs Get Real

Green credits are maturing to become real, tradeable assets.

Michael Zimmer, Jason T. Hungerford, and Jennifer M. Rohleder

By displacing electricity produced from fossil fuels, renewable power plants produce two distinct products—commodity electricity and a set of environmental attributes (particularly avoided emissions). These environmental attributes can be packaged into a product called a renewable energy certificate, or REC, and sold separately from the electricity. As REC markets develop, key issues are being addressed regarding market interaction.

Demand-Side Dreams

FERC would relax price caps—sending rates skyward—to encourage customers to curtail loads.

Bruce W. Radford

About four months ago, at a conference at Stanford University’s Center for International Development, the economist and utility industry expert Frank Wolak turned heads with a not-so-new but very outrageous idea.

Regulators Forum: Restructuring Rollback

State-policy turmoil reshapes utility markets.

Lori A. Burkhart

As many states move toward re-regulation, we speak to commissioners in Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia to learn how policies are evolving—and how far the regulatory shakeup will go

Annual ROE Survey: Capitalizing On Grid Concerns

Regulators use rate cases to craft incentives for capital spending.

Phillip S. Cross

(November 2007) Fortnightly's annual rate-case analysis reveals a new trend at state PUCs involving return-on-equity rate allowances. Regulators increasingly are giving utilities an earnings incentive to pursue preferred investments.

Deregulation, Phase II

Recent electricity pricing argues for faster, more extensive deregulation.

Sean Casten

Was restructuring a success? Prices provide a dispassionate analysis, showing that restructuring was poorly designed, badly executed, and focused on the wrong part of the grid. With those lessons learned, it’s time to explore ways to move forward.

California's Green Gaffe

Some green-energy policies disregard the value of energy use, risking market distortion and consumer backlash.

Carl Danner

Policy mandates might erode public support for green-energy efforts, even in an environmentally conscious state like California, by frustrating consumer demands instead of allowing them to be fulfilled more efficiently. Recognizing real consumer value will help policy makers develop economically rational green-energy regulation.

Reliability Now!

Tech experts weigh the options for improving power delivery.

Christian Hamaker

We’ve heard it all before, but the issue isn’t going away: Reliability of power, from generation to distribution, remains a primary concern of the utility industry. But the current verdict is mixed, depending upon which experts you talk to. Aging equipment is a ticking time bomb—except when it isn’t. NERC CIP standards are driving reliability improvements—except when they aren’t. Maintenance is key—except where monitoring and automation are more important. And regulators should stand aside and let the market drive reliability improvements—but economic incentives wouldn’t hurt.

Creating the Perfect Regulator

Regulatory complexities call for supernatural skills

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

A regulator’s “goodness” is defined by four fundamental traits: Omniscience; Solomonic Wisdom; Clairvoyance; and Righteousness.

People

(November 2007) Pacific Gas and Electric Co. elected William D. Arndt to the newly established post of vice president, project management and program office. Calpine Corp. promoted Zamir Rauf to treasurer and senior vice president of finance. FirstEnergy Corp. named William D. Byrd director of rate strategy, vice president and chief risk officer. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission assigned David Dumbacher as senior resident inspector at the Callaway nuclear plant, near Fulton, Mo. And others...

The Meter Is Running

Oracle’s software guru Guerry Waters eats and breathes the new infrastructure.

Bruce W. Radford

Oracle’s Guerry Waters is one of the country’s leading gurus on smart-meter technology—a business sector with huge potential for addressing today’s environmental problems.

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