Calendar of Events

Jul 13, 2014 to Jul 16, 2014 | Dallas, TX
Aug 04, 2014 to Aug 15, 2014 | Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Aug 11, 2014 to Aug 12, 2014 | New York, NY

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Public Utilities Reports

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cash flow

Charging Kwhs and BTUs on Credit

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

Credit card companies say they're seeing an increase in volume for energy transactions despite claims by utilities that it costs more for them to receive monthly bills on plastic.

As proof of their desire not to take the credit card route, the utilities that allow customers to pay with a card don't always promote that option.

Holding utilities back are the transaction fees they pay for bill processing. These fees can run as high as 3 percent or more. If a customer doesn't pay the full card balance each month, the servicing bank profits even more.

Canadian Money Targets Power Generation Overseas

Sarah McKinley

CANADA MAY CLAIM ONLY A SMALL SHARE OF THE world's high-profile power developers, but that hasn't stopped its financial institutions from becoming big players. These public and private lenders have made available billions of dollars to nearly any project willing to use Canadian consultants or equipment.

Furthermore, the government is willing to back its country's products with political risk insurance as part of the package. In a world where power projects are becoming expensive and pose greater market and political risk, Canadian involvement is welcomed.

Temperature, Price and Profit: Managing Weather Risk

Roxane Richter

THE SUMMER OF 1996 OPENED COOLER THAN normal in June and July, cutting electric sales. When prices for natural gas did not fall as expected, as a counterbalance Consolidated Edison Co. of New York entered a combined gas-conversion and weather-heading transaction with power marketer Aquila Energy, giving Con Ed some measure of protection against further revenue shortfalls in August.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis

State PUCs

STRANDED COST RECOVERY. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission allowed Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. to recover $2.9 billion of a requested $4.5 billion in stranded costs, cutting a higher $4-billion allowance proposed earlier by an administrative law judge. The utility petitioned for reconsideration on June 26, after CEO William F. Hecht had called the decision "unacceptable," and noting that the PUC's written order, received June 15, appeared "even more injurious" to the company that the PUC's June 4 bench order.

Off Peak

Alan J. Cox and Jonathan Portes

DEREGULATION OF ANY INDUSTRY OFTEN LEADS TO consolidation and merger, which frequently bolsters the involved companies' stock prices.

In the SBC/Pacific Telesis merger, intervenors argued before the California Public Utilities Commission that the change in the value of Pacific Telesis' stock was a measure of the merger's "benefits" to shareholders. They said the PUC should force the merged company to rebate half those benefits to ratepayers.

Analysts use stock market information in an "event study" to measure the economic impact of a particular event.

The Electric Competition Debate in...New York

Lori A. Burkhart

HAS DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN STATE HOUSE AND COMmission stalled electric industry restructuring efforts in New York?

Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York State Assembly, insists the Legislature is busy working on comprehensive restructuring legislation for the state. He has expressed dismay at efforts of the New York Public Service Commission, which is restructuring the industry utility by utility.

Silver believes legislation offers the best chance to introduce competition quickly and efficiently, rather than through multiple, individual restructuring plans.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis

State Legislatures

UTILITY HOUSE CALLS. Michigan Gov. John Engler (R) signed into law a bill making it a felony to impersonate a utility employee to enter private property for criminal purposes. The new law calls for those convicted to be imprisoned for not more than two years and to pay a maximum fine of $1,000, or both.

ELECTRIC RESTRUCTURING. Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar (R) signed into law an electric restructuring bill for the state. Edgar noted that concerns over the bill were addressed by the state's two largest utilities, Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Power Co.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

WELCOME BACK, MY FRIENDS, TO THE SHOW that never ends."

So said two weary commission staffers, trudging out of the hearing room late Friday afternoon, Jan. 31, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission adjourned its technical conference on the financial outlook for natural gas pipelines.

The hearing ran way behind schedule (em further evidence that before she left last summer for the Department of Energy, former FERC Chairwoman Elizabeth Moler neglected to pass along to successor James Hoecker whatever gene she possessed that allowed her to keep meetings moving right along.

The New England Auction: Regional Strategy for Competitive Generation

David Haarmeyer, Robert T. McWhinney Jr. and Ronald Moe

USGEN IS THE NATURAL CANDIDATE TO PURCHASE NEES' generation assets. We have a well-established commitment to the region; we have strong power plant operating experience; and we have been a leader in promoting competition and customer choice in gas and electric industries."

(em USGen President and CEO Joseph P. Kearney

In August 1997, U.S. Generating Co., an affiliate of PG&E Corp., successfully bid $1.59 billion in a competitive auction for all of New England Electric System's non-nuclear generating business (18 power plants, plus power purchase contracts and other assets).

Utilities Earn an A+ for Power Plant Auctions

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

THE POWER PLANTS OF AT LEAST FIVE UTILITIES IN NEW England and California get swapped this year for more than $5.3 billion. And happily, those holding bonds on the plants will be given cash for their coupons.

These utilities (see sidebar, "Going Once, Going Twice¼ Sold!") can expect their credit ratings to remain firm or even jump (em although that's debated by analysts. Such improved ratings may surprise market observers led to believe that loss of utility collateral would hurt investment grades.

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