FERC this year must select a reliability czar. But the obvious choice could prove less than ideal.
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
NERC up until now has been, in its own words, “a self regulatory organization, relying on reciprocity, peer pressure, and the mutual self-interest of all those involved in the electric system.” Nevertheless, can this tradition of kind, gentle, and voluntary consensus-building stand NERC in good stead as it seeks to transform itself in to a steel-fisted czar that would enforce mandatory standards?
Jim Lundrigan, New Haven, Conn.: After reading Gordon van Welie’s article (“New England: A Critical Look at Competition,”) I couldn’t help but think back to California in 2000. Van Welie, who is president and CEO of ISO New England, is trying to feed the citizens of New England the same brand of malarkey that the California ISO fed the California Public Utilities Commission in 2000 when wholesale and retail prices in California were perfectly linked and nearly succeeded in bankrupting the wealthiest state in the country.
John S. Ferguson, Richardson, Texas: The article of Michael J. Majoros Jr. (“Rate-Base Cleansings: Rolling Over Ratepayers,”) attracted my attention, because I perceive it to propose a solution—PUCs’ need to recognize refundable regulatory liabilities—for a problem that does not exist.
Utilities and financiers want ratepayers to fund the next wave of power plants. Will higher electric rates spoil the party?
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
You’ve heard the story. The local utility ought to be investing billions in new power plants, but the company CEO wants a guarantee from regulators for upfront costs and future operating expenses before laying down dollar one on the project. What to do? Utility CEOs attending the Edison Electric Institute’s 40th Financial Conference last month in Hollywood, Fla., were shuffling to the old rate base song-and-dance. But this time, they were working out a few new moves.
Jay Morrison, Senior Regulatory Counsel, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association: I was disappointed to see that two different articles in the October 2005 issue erroneously stated that the Electricity Modernization Act requires net metering.
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?
Debate continues on how to safeguard America's energy infrastructure.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the central question: Could any of this have been avoided? Many experts believe that the new authority given to FERC to enforce mandatory reliability standards, as per the Energy Policy Act of 2005, will bring greater transparency to the process of protecting critical infrastructure.
There is much to celebrate in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, but what will federal regulators do?
When we least expected it, the politicians finally were able to pull a multi-billion white rabbit out of their hat—enacting a comprehensive national energy law (Energy Policy Act of 2005) that will usher in extraordinary changes in the industry However, just how the new law really will affect the industry is the question of the hour, with many provisions of the law left to the interpretation of regulators.
Look at the gargantuan, gerrymandered service territories you would get with the latest pending merger deals: Exelon-PSEG, Duke-Cinergy, and Warren Buffet's bid to combine PacifiCorp with his MidAmerican Energy. Now ask yourself if they make any sense.
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