NIMBY: Now More Than Ever
James L. Creighton, Ph.D.
Deregulation Abroad: Still Reaching Its Potential
Wait for the "second wave," when new products help suppliers escape the trench warfare of pricing.
Carl J. Levesque
Utility restructuring seems to prompt more lawsuits by customers.
In Chicago, Commonwealth Edison Co. settles a class action lawsuit for a heat-wave outage, paying $2.5 million for items including "food spoilage," to customers served by certain city substations. In California, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spends $8.3 million to resolve 98 percent of some 6,600 outage-related claims.
Bruce W. Radford
Having now passed a rule that takes very few chances, the FERC must decide what's in store for investors.
Whatever happened to the Sunshine Act - the law that tells government officials to hold their meetings in the open?
That's what all of us in the trade press wanted to know on Dec. 15, when Chairman James Hoecker kept us waiting all morning and well into the afternoon, while he and his cohorts at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission debated in secret on the ninth floor over the future of the electric utility industry.
Five commission chairs from states in all phases of deregulation ponder their changing roles. Will market success make them obsolete?
As most state electric competition plans are implemented within the next few years, regulators face an uncertain future. And they're already reflecting on their role in a changing industry.
Regulatory commissions in both Illinois and California have created panels to discuss the issue and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has held closed-door sessions on the subject.
California again is the proving ground. Analysts see DG as the biggest issue since the PUC first mapped its "vision" for retail competition.
Regina R. Johnson
With so much at stake, why don't utilities ask vendors for plug and play?
Everyone agrees that competitive retail energy markets need interoperable information systems. Otherwise, the high cost of switching proprietary metering and data communications systems could offset savings from customer choice. Standardization reduces the costs of automating operations - also crucial for competitive companies. Interoperable "plug and play" systems can free companies of dependence on expensive, single-sourced equipment. So why do most utility systems remain incompatible from vendor to vendor?
Becky Kilbourne, and George Sladoje
As the FERC ponders RTO structure, California's incumbent PX defends its unique design.
The great California debate - what role and structure for a power exchange? - once again is rearing its head, this time on the national scene. The resurgence of interest in regional transmission organizations, or RTOs, spurred by the recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking[fn.1] issued in May by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, raises questions about the relationship between RTOs (designed primarily to manage grid operations) and power exchanges (seen as vehicles to facilitate trading).
Carl J. Levesque, Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
Studies & Reports
Year 2000 Readiness. On Jan. 11 the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) predicted a minimal effect on electric system operations from Y2K software problems. The Department of Energy, which had asked NERC to run the electric industry assessment, added that 98 percent of U.S.
PUCs turn their attention to what they can still control.
The battleground has shifted. Utilities that last year worried about winning customers in pilot programs for retail choice now face public audits on the reliability of transmission and distribution.
With rate cases in remission, no nukes on order and generation planning left to the market, public utility commissions are turning their attention to what they can still regulate. That means service quality. Nor are PUCs the only ones involved.