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Fortnightly Magazine - November 2010

Vendor Neutral

Former Pres. Bill Clinton and other dignitaries help Duke, Cisco and Charlotte, N.C., launch commercial efficiency initiative; AEP signs 20-year MOU to buy solar output from New Harvest plant; Wartsila expands gas-fired generator in Turkey; U.S. DOE awards geothermal RD&D grants; GE acquires Dresser for $3 billion, and also acquires Calnetix industrial cogen technology; SunEdison sells 70 MW Rovigo PV plant; Ford Motor Co.

Transactions

(November 2010) NRG buys Green Mountain Energy; Sempra divests domestic retail commodity operation, buys back $500 million in shares; TransCanada sells $1 billion in 10-year notes; Entergy floats $1.5 billion in four tranches; Exelon sells $900 million in two bond offerings; plus issues by Southern Company, Edison International, Nevada Power and CMS.

Bench Report: Top Ten Legal Decisions of 2010

2010 Law & Lawyers Report

Bruce W. Radford

1. Private Bargaining vs. Public Interest; 2. Negawatts = Megawatts?; 3. Smart Grid Skeptics; 4. Troubled Waters; 5. $1 Billion Down the Drain; 6. Feed-In Frenzy; 7. Spreading Downwind; 8. Violator Beware; 9. Greenhouse Two-Step; 10. SPP’s ‘Highway/Byway’ Plan.

Black Swans and Turkeys

The industry isn’t as robust as we might think.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Investor-owned utilities might seem fairly robust, but they’re not impervious to unpredictable black-swan events. Ensuring the industry’s survival might depend on our ability to reduce our dependence on fragile and unsustainable regulatory structures.

People

(November 2010) DTE names Gerard Anderson CEO; Arthur Meyer ascends to general counsel at Dayton Power & Light and DPL; Exelon names new executives, including Calvin Butler, s.v.p. of human resources and Susan Weiss, v.p. of commercial operations; Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions appoints former FERC Commissioner Branko Terzic executive director, and adds former FERC Commissioner William Hederman to its energy and resources group; other executive changes at OGE Energy, Ameren, Chesapeake Utilities, El Paso Electric, Otter Tail, ISO New England, EPRI, AGA, NIST, and more.

What Happened in Maryland

State case has national implications for grid modernization.

William A. Mogel

Strict adherence to cost-of-service ratemaking led to what might be considered a Luddite decision in the Maryland PSC’s initial rejection of BGE’s smart-grid filing. More than 60 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that ratemaking calls for “pragmatic adjustments” to regulatory policy, toward the goal of sensible and effective rate orders. Delaying modernization doesn’t serve the aims of customer choice, conservation or electric system efficiency.

Dynamic Pricing and Low-Income Customers

Correcting misconceptions about load-management programs.

Lisa Wood and Ahmad Faruqui

Do low-income customers respond to dynamic rates? The answer is yes, and in fact such customers can benefit from dynamic pricing without shifting loads”contrary to conventional wisdom. A study co-authored by the Edison Foundation’s Institute for Electric Efficiency and the Brattle Group shows that restricting access to dynamic rates might actually be harmful to most low-income customers.

Penalty Predictability Enhanced

FERC modifies its enforcement guidelines.

J. Michel Marcoux

FERC’s revised policy provides greater predictability and transparency in the commission’s approach to determining civil and criminal penalties under its statutory authority. Despite a more systematic framework, however, FERC retains discretion to assess penalties based on the facts of individual cases.

Baked-In or Decoupled?

Rate case risk in a climate of declining sales.

Phillip S. Cross

(November 2010) Data from 2010 ROE Survey documents the industry’s struggle to reconcile rate trackers and decoupling provisions in utility rate cases.

Legal Battleground

2010 Law & Lawyers Report

By Michael T. Burr

The U.S. utility industry has never faced a more uncertain legal and regulatory landscape. From FERC demand-response pricing to state ratemaking disputes, legal trends and decisions are reshaping the power and gas market. The industry’s top legal minds provide strategic counsel. By definition, a battlefield is an ugly place. Conflict creates chaos, uncertainty and danger.

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