Calendar of Events

Nov 24, 2014 | Washington, DC
Dec 08, 2014 to Dec 09, 2014 | Washington, DC
Jan 14, 2015 to Jan 16, 2015 | San Diego, CA

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Public Utilities Reports

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Frontlines & Op-Ed

Warming to the Crisis

Kyoto countries miss their targets, but scientists say climate change was already unstoppable.

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

Hollywood and the media are way ahead of the politicians when it comes to the greenhouse effect and global warming. But even as utilities try to be good corporate citizens and help devise a federal or national plan, the question remains as to whether the domestic economy can achieve even a modest reduction in CO2 releases—enough to put even a small dent in current predictions of global climate change.

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

In “Rate-Base Cleansings: Rolling Over Ratepayers” (November 2005, p.58), Michael Majoros urges state public utility commissions to recognize a refundable regulatory liability for past charges to ratepayers for non-legal asset retirement costs.

The Merger Paradox

More consolidation could trim costs, but some CEOs fear a backlash from regulators.

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

With the possible exception of keeping the lights on, the merger game dwarfs just about every other question facing today’s electric utilities. The last big wave of consolidation hit in the late 1990s. Now the forecast calls for a repeat performance, but don’t bet the farm. There’s a hitch, you see. It’s today’s high commodity costs.

Letter to the Editor

Jacob Williams, VP Generation Development, Peabody Energy: While transmission built to “compete” with generation capacity is an interesting notion, it generally misses the real value of transmission. In today’s high energy-price world, delivering “affordable” energy to consumers is very important. I believe we need higher standards in the electricity market similar to transportation, where we value reliability and affordability (time).

NERC Knows Best?

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?

Letters to the Editor

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.

How to Tango With a Regulator

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.

Letters to the Editor

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.

Frontlines

Is the predicted crisis this winter a failure of policy, the market, or both?

Richard Stavros

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?

The Cost of Katrina

Debate continues on how to safeguard America's energy infrastructure.

Richard Stavros

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.

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