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Public Utilities Reports

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California Public Utilities Commission

Revenue Caps or Price Caps? Robust Competition Later Means Healthy Choices New

Kenneth W. Costello

The debate over restructuring the electric industry has encompassed a revisiting of the traditional rate-of-return (ROR) pricing model. Parties of widely divergent interests increasingly advocate alternatives. Under the label "performance-based regulation," these new pricing models share the objective of strengthening incentives for electric utilities incentives to pursue some specified "socially desirable" outcome.

Transmission Tariffs: Still Pro Forma? Locational Pricing and the Federal Power Act

Stephen L. Teichler

Two power pools (em one existing, the other inchoate (em have announced that they will file tariffs to price electric transmission as the difference in spot prices in the generation and consuming markets.

Price-cap Reforms Reflect Local Competition

Phillip S. Cross

Citing heightened competition and lower earnings in the state's local exchange telephone market, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has frozen price caps for local exchange carriers (LECs) for most noncompetitive local services, and has suspended the 5-percent "x-factor" services for an intermediate level of competition.

Reliability, Not Economy, Dictates Transmission Line

Phillip S. Cross

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved a proposal by Sierra Pacific Power Co. to construct a 345-kilovolt overhead transmission line, but not simply to gain access to low-cost power. Instead, the CPUC appeared to emphasize concern over reliability.

Sierra Pacific, involved in merger plans with The Washington Water Power Co., had cited access to low-cost power from the Bonneville Power Administration as an important reason to build the transmission line.

NARUC in Winter

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

Resolutions generated heat (electricity) and warmth

(telecommunications, environment).

State utility commissioners have gone on record asking Congress to "call them first" before it legislatively restructures the electric industry.

That resolution prompted some of the liveliest debate at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners' (NARUC) Winter Committee meetings. About 1,000 people attended the 10-day event in Washington, DC, February 21 to March 1.

Calif. Restructuring Impairs Muni Credit Ratings

Lori A. Burkhart

Moody's Investors Service has completed its Western Grid Surveillance Review, a study that assessed the potential impact of the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC's) electric restructuring proposal on municipal utilities in that region.

Trends

Christopher D. Seiple and Douglas M. Logan

Curbing Market Power:

The Larger, the Better

In recent years, increased competition and the threat of deregulation have spurred numerous mergers and acquisitions. Fourteen mergers have been completed by investor-owned utilities (IOUs) over the last five years; seven more have been announced. If all of these mergers receive approval, nearly 20 percent of the IOUs that existed in 1990 will no longer exist.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

Lately I'm reading up on the new Telecommunications Act. Last week I printed a copy from the Internet and stuffed it in my briefcase. Each night on the train I give it a go and skim a few sections.

The new law unabashedly favors competition over regulation, but appoints state commissions (PUCs) to certify when that competition may be deemed effective enough to open markets. Thus, the PUCs will take at least one last shot at managing markets before they relax regulation for competitive services.

Retail Aggregation: A Guaranteed Right for Small Customers?

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

With a CTC likely to cover stranded costs,

aggregators must somehow find power cheap

enough to offer real savings.

Retail aggregation: Wherever you stand, it appears 1998 could be the year of reckoning.

By then (em say those watching the future of aggregation in the "leader" states of California, New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire (em rulemakings will have sorted out the issues of stranded costs, distribution, and reliability.

Electric Vehicles: The Case for (and Against) Incentives

Andrew Ford

California's retreat from its zero-emission targets eases the pressure on utilities, making time for a fresh look at public and private efforts.

Electric vehicles (EVs) hold interest for utility companies around the world.

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