Calendar of Events

Sep 29, 2014 to Oct 03, 2014 | Michigan State University, Lansing MI
Oct 01, 2014 to Oct 03, 2014 | Washington, DC

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Public Utilities Reports

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Frontlines & Op-Ed

Double Dealing on Carbon

Will the environmental lobby be even-handed with utilities?

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

They were heralded as “landmark” or “watershed” moments in the industry—a series of deals completed during the last few months in which utilities sat down and negotiated with environmentalists on coal-plant development. While many in the industry had hoped this was the start of a positive new trend, some environmentalists have double-dealt across state lines, arguing against coal plants in one state and then negotiating for their development in the other.

Basic Instinct

If private equity makes a killing, Congress should require full disclosure.

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

There’s just no stopping it. The capital amassed by private takeover firms is simply overwhelming. Any reasonable person could conclude that public utilities face wholesale changes in terms of corporate ownership. Investor-owed? You bet. But the “public” part may well give way to “private.”

A Monopolist Takeover

Dominion and AEP want to put the toothpaste back in the tube, but re-regulation could get messy.

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

Is it possible to go back to the way things were? Nostalgia for the old regulated model seems to be waxing of late, particularly in Virginia. The 70-percent rate increases in Maryland last year at the expiration of price caps—part of the transition to electric competition—has become the calamity that some state regulators fear most. Several utilities are pushing for re-regulation.

Duke's Risky Spin

Lackluster interest in Duke post spin-off bodes ill for the “pure play” electric utility.

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

It was the most anticipated energy deal in the New Year, but not for the usual reasons. The spin-off of Duke Energy’s natural-gas business into a stand-alone company, Spectra Energy Inc., peaked interest because the transaction was to have marked the vindication of the so-called “pure play” electric strategy. The deal also has captured attention because the spin-off represented a divestiture strategy that until now hasn’t been universally embraced, with gas assets still seen by some utilities as part of core operations.

Letters to the Editor

John D. Wilson and Brian H. Potts

John D. Chandley, Principal, LECG LLC: Bruce Radford’s “An Inconvenient Fact” provides a helpful critique of a fundamental element of open-access transmission reform, one of the most important rulemaking cases affecting electricity regulation at FERC.

Cynthia Bogorad, Spiegel & McDiarmid, Washington: From my perspective representing transmission-dependent utilities, I am very sympathetic to the underlying concerns that appear to be driving the TDAs’ proposal. However, the TDAs’ proposal is not the answer.

Letters to the Editor

Jay Kumar, President, Economic & Technical Consultants Inc.: Could Hind Farag and Gary L. Hunt point out any winner whose power costs have decreased after the implementation of LMP? I can bet they won’t find even one single (real) entity. ... I am glad that MISO is sticking to the original basis of a supposedly competitive market.

Diane Moody, Director, Statistical Analysis, American Public Power Association: “The Fallacy of High Prices” purports to show that restructuring of wholesale power markets has resulted in significant benefits. However, the analysis it offers in support of this proposition is not credible.

Another Food Fight!

The new transmission siting and permitting policies could be just as messy and unruly as the old ones.

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

The idea behind the NIETC is a noble one: to help facilitate the construction of badly needed transmission capacity to relieve congestion problems and improve reliability. In fact, the promotion of new infrastructure investment is at the heart of EPACT. But there’s just one problem. The new process for permitting and siting electric transmission under EPACT appears to be as flawed and contentious as it was pre-EPACT.

Casino Royale?

Utilities place billion-dollar bets on infrastructure, but the deck may be stacked against them.

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

Something seems deeply disturbing about the utility industry these days. An almost palpable tension rises whenever the utility CEO is asked how he will build enough power plants to meet the skyrocketing demand for power. Some consultants predict that sometime after this decade the time will come when utilities won’t be able to build enough to meet demand, no matter what they try.

Letters to the Editor

(December 2006) Charles A. King, California ISO: “Kicked Off and On Schedule” reasonably captures many of the implementation issues and stakeholder concerns surrounding the California Independent System Operator Market Redesign and Technology Upgrade program. However, I was somewhat disappointed that the article offered few details about the benefits MRTU will provide.

Letters to the Editor

Ken Glozer, President, OMB Professionals Inc.: “The Geopolitics of the Grid” was well done. I enjoyed reading it. Regarding the paragraph raising questions about why there are major disparities in retail electric rates from one region of the country to another, one major contributing reason is archaic and unfair federal subsidies.

Anonymous: “Gravy Train” articulately summarized the emerging tension between utility executive compensation and “return to basics” corporate strategies.

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