Calendar of Events

Aug 04, 2014 to Aug 15, 2014 | Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Aug 11, 2014 to Aug 12, 2014 | New York, NY
Sep 08, 2014 to Sep 10, 2014 | Chicago, IL

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Public Utilities Reports

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People

CMS Electric & Gas Co. named Frank Johnson vice president of international electric and gas distribution. He previously was the company's vice president of energy distribution.

J. Kay Smith was appointed vice president of corporate communications and public policy at Ameren Corp. Smith was promoted from assistant to the president for AmerenCIPS and manager of government affairs for Ameren Services.

Duke Energy International appointed David Weaver executive vice president for Europe.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Carl J. Levesque

Studies and Reports

Natural Gas Retail Choice. Utility affiliates hold large market shares in natural gas customer choice programs, raising questions about the extent of true competition, according to a study released on Dec. 15 by the U.S. General Accounting Office. Participation varies by region, however, according to the report, "Energy Deregulation - Status of Natural Gas Customer Choice Programs."

In Pennsylvania, for example, three out of four programs showed very high shares for utility affiliates. The Equitable Gas Co.

Off Peak

Water rates continue to increase - by more than 10 percent in some cities.

The costs of improving water quality to meet mandates are proving too large to be diluted unnoticed into consumers' bills, many agencies are finding.

While the trend of increased water costs continues with U.S. rates up an average of 2.6 percent from 1997 to 1998, a new study reveals that some cities experienced increases of more than 10 percent.

News Digest

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

State PUCs

Distributed Generation. California opened a rulemaking proceeding to consider regulatory reforms in electricity distribution service, with a possible focus on distributed generation. The commission emphasized that its intent was not to define new policies, but to gather information. Comments are due March 17, and the commission intends to consider a proposal from the assigned commissioner this summer. Rulemaking 98-12-015, Dec. 17, 1998 (Calif. P.U.C.).

Gas Transportation Rates.

MAPP, MISO & PJM: Three Regions Fight Over Wires, Prices and Profits

Bruce W. Radford

Tales of bad faith, cold feet and price manipulation.

Lollipops"/fn1/ and "loopholes." "Islands" and "peninsulas." Utilities have invented a colorful new lexicon to explain what's happening at power pools and regional transmission groups. Yet the basic issue remains familiar: How to gain a competitive advantage.

People

DTE Energy Technologies named G. Paul Horst company president. Horst was founder and first chief executive officer of Nematron Corp. He pioneered the use of industrial computers to provide operator-to-machine interfaces similar to ATM machines. Since 1995, Horst has served as a director of Interface Systems and a consultant to DTE Energy.

Randy Hardy, former CEO and administrator of Bonneville Power Administration, has formed the Hardy Energy Consulting firm. Hardy will work with the Washington, D.C.

Solar Mandate? Like it or Not, Consumers Pay

William A. Spratley

States earmark millions to fund solar projects via system benefits charges.

Making solar power a realistic choice for electric consumers is a burgeoning issue for state utility regulators. As part of electric restructuring, regulators are trying to finance the costs of solar installations.

Key to delivering commercial, on-grid solar power to new markets are state efforts, partnered with other government and industry actions. So far, the system benefits charge, or SBC, is the primary short-term incentive to develop solar, wind, biomass and other renewable resources.

News Digest

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

State PUCs

Electric Retail Choice. The Arkansas Public Service Commission has issued its final report on electric restructuring, citing a "broad" consensus favoring competition. It predicts immediate benefits for industrial customers, but warns that residential users likely will not see any quick rate cut. The PSC saw competition as consistent with action in neighboring states:

• Oklahoma. State law mandates retail choice by July 1, 2002.

• Mississippi. PSC plan would phase-in competition from 2001 to 2004.

• Missouri.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

The FERC's latest idea throws pipelines for a loop, with implications for power markets, too.

Transmission and distribution (em the business they call "pipes and wires" (em can't last much longer with rates set by cost of service. Contrary to the myth, these services deserve no special status due to their high embedded costs. They carry no intrinsic value apart from the electrons and molecules they deliver.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, THREE WEEKS AFTER I wrote this column, California voters narrowly defeated Proposition 9. In case you missed it, that was the ballot initiative that would have cut off funding for nuclear power in California through securitization or any other fancy financing for stranded costs. A "yes" vote would have told utilities, in effect, to "take these bonds and shove it."

But the voters said "no," however, and I'll tell you why - even before the first ballot was cast.

In the end, Prop 9 failed for the same reason that George McGovern lost to Richard Nixon in 1972.

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