Defining a test period to overcome controversies and inaccuracies.
Test-period and test-year selection continue to generate controversy in rate cases. Examples from Utah provide insight on the difficulties of forecasting and with judging test periods.
Why similar U.S and Canadian risk profiles yield varied rate-making results.
James M. Coyne and John Trogonoski
Cost of capital is often a contentious issue in utility ratemaking. This is due, in part, to the inexact nature of the tools available to financial analysts and the considerable room for divergent opinions on key inputs to cost-of-capital estimation. Perhaps for this very reason, and to achieve regulatory efficiency, Canadian regulators widely adopted a formulaic approach to setting return on equity (ROE). However, an unusual degree of rancor has evolved north of the border as allowed ROEs in Canada, once at parity, have fallen near 200-basis points below their U.S. peers.
(April 2010) MidAmerican Energy Holdings announced the appointment of Michael Dunn as president of PacifiCorp Energy. NiSource Inc. announced that Jimmy D. Staton, executive v.p. and group CEO of NiSource’s gas distribution business, also will assume the added responsibility of leading the NiSource Indiana utilities, including Northern Indiana Public Service. Vectren chose Carl L. Chapman to serve as CEO. And others.
FEI Company, a diversified scientific instruments company providing electron and ion-beam microscopes and tools for nanoscale applications, completed a multiple system installation at the Materials Ageing Institute (MAI) in France, a utility-oriented research center financed by Electricite de France, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Kansai Electric Power Co. and the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute.
Has the one-day-in-10-years criterion outlived its usefulness?
The one-day-in-10-years criterion might have lost its usefulness in today’s energy markets. The criterion is highly conservative when used in calculating reserve margins for reliability. Can the industry continue justifying the high cost of overbuilding?
Living in the new world of mandatory reliability standards.
Zhen Zhang and Matthew Stern
Mandatory reliability standards put in place by NERC three years ago give reason for optimism concerning their success. But the organization struggles with standards development, compliance, enforcement and transparency.
Mitigating enforcement penalties in NERC hearings and appeals.
Daniel E. Frank & Caileen N. Gamache
The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) holds substantial enforcement powers as the nation’s electric reliability organization for bulk power transactions. Taking affirmative steps will help utilities and system operators to avoid or minimize NERC penalties.
Automation technologies promise a reliability revolution.
Utilities are using automation and back-office systems to improve their performance on outage management and service restoration. The next generation of smart-grid technologies promises a revolution in self-healing systems. But first the industry must gain confidence in the technology—and the business case for investment.
How merchant funding is remaking the rules for renewables.
Six weeks ago, FERC opened a notice of inquiry to invite industry comments on whether wind, solar, and other intermittent energy sources face unfair obstacles in wholesale power markets. Now assigned their own acronym—VERs, for “variable energy resources”—renewables make up a growing percentage of the nation’s energy supply portfolio. But as FERC notes, they present “unique challenges,” especially in terms of constraints on location and limits on the degree to which system operators can control or dispatch individual VER units. Thus, FERC suggests that certain common rules and practices, such as those for unit commitment, dispatch, and scheduling, might make it overly difficult to integrate VERs into the grid.
(March 2010) New Day for Prudence: I am sending this letter at the request of Robert Gruber, who is the executive director of the Public Staff-North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), which is the state agency charged with representing the public in matters before the NCUC. In the article, “New Day for Prudence,” the group that filed the quoted testimony is not “the Office of Public Counsel.” It consists of a number of non-profits and associations that banded together and called themselves the Public Advocacy Groups for the purpose of intervening before the NCUC. We’re also concerned because the article’s description of the NCUC’s ruling is erroneous.