Phillip S. Cross
As regulators continue to investigate industrywide restructuring as an answer to regional electric rate disparities and calls from large consumers for price reductions, the trend of dealing with the problem through rate discounting also remains strong. Regulators have taken steps to ensure that shareholders bear at least some of the risk for revenue shortfalls that might result under the new contracts.
Susan F. Tierney, former assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Energy, has joined The Economics Resource Group, Inc. as a managing consultant.
UGI Corp. has hired William D. Katz as v.p.-corporate development. He succeeds R. Paul Grady, now v.p.-sales/
operations of UGI's AmeriGas Propane subsidiary.
Stephen D. Chesebro', Tenneco Energy's CEO, was promoted to chairman. Edward J. Casey, Jr. joins the company as president and COO.
Bruce W. Radford
Deregulate in haste; repent at leisure. That's what they say about love, marriage, and ratemaking. Yet, in the utility business the regrets are pouring in (em sometimes from the same people who sent out the invitations.
For example, at the end of November, a week before I put fingers to keyboard, the FERC was shocked to discover that the proposed Altus merger between The Washington Water Power Co. and Sierra Pacific Power Co.
David E. and Kimberly H. Dismukes
In a little over a year, the electric utility industry has seen six significant mergers.1 This trend toward consolidation most likely will increase as the industry becomes more competitive.
Phillip S. Cross
State regulators continue to update methods of pricing telecommunications services, using price caps for local exchange carriers (LECs) while expanding existing pricing flexibility for interexchange carriers (IXCs). The emerging trend toward inviting competitors to serve the local market, including basic local exchange service, also continues. Some of the activity mirrors ongoing developments at the federal level, such as major regulatory reforms under debate in the Congress and court-supervised modifications to existing service restrictions stemming from the AT&T divestiture.
Leonard S. Hyman
At Addison Mizner's pink fantasy on a Spanish theme, the Boca Raton Resort, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) waited for Godot. Yes, that was the theme of EEI's 30th financial conference, and its first plunge into literature. You may remember the play, in which two hobos talk endlessly while waiting for the mysterious Godot, who has not yet arrived by the final curtain. In the same way, electric utilities and those who invest in them have been awaiting the advent of restructuring, the California remake of the industry, retail wheeling somewhere, and the wipeout of stranded assets.
California regulators and the utilities they oversee have been talking a lot in recent years about competition. But just being able to "talk the talk" isn't enough (em utility companies and the regulators who monitor them have got to "walk the walk." And on that score, they've just barely begun to crawl. Despite all the marketing hype, the monopoly mindset is still very apparent among industry officials and regulators.Take California's energy industry, for example.
Question: Will your commission still be around in the year 2000? If so, what will it look like? Are you restructuring your commission with the same fervor you devote to electricity, gas, and telecommunications?Response by Nancy McCaffree, Chair, Montana Public Service Commission:
As a regulator I have had the opportunity to listen to economists, energy planners, and other professional soothsayers. I have come to the conclusion that the only certainty pertaining to future forecasts is that they will be wrong 100 percent of the time.
Philip R. O'Connor, Erik B. Jacobson, and Terrence L. Barnich
Twenty-five centuries ago, 300 steadfast Spartans, defending their sacred Greek turf, held up Xerxes's Persian army at the pass at Thermopylae just long enough for the Persians to lose the opportunity to conquer Greece. The world would have been quite different if the Spartans had just "given way."Contemporary state public utility regulators number just about that of those plucky Spartans.
What's in a Name?
Charles Studness's article "CPUC Chooses Reregulation over Deregulation" (Financial News, July 15, 1995) reminds me of Humpty Dumpty's scornful remark in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass: "When I use a word, it means what I choose it to mean (em nothing more nor less."
When Studness discusses "deregulation," it is clearly what he chooses it to mean (em not what the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proposes in its May 24 majority decision on deregulating the electric utility industry.