Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
How much will utilities invest
in energy service companies to boost earnings beyond the normal growth rate?Going on the "defensive-offensive."
In the early 1990s, flush with utility money from its corporate parent, Entergy Systems and Service, Inc. began expanding to provide competitive energy services.
Tim Woolf, and Julie Michals
With competition looming, electric utilities increasingly resort to price discounts, both to retain customers and to alleviate some of the pressure to introduce retail competition. Performance-based ratemaking (PBR), which allows utilities greater flexibility in offering price discounts, is emerging as an integral component of many restructuring proposals.
However, flexible pricing can create inequity among ratepayers.
Since the federal Court of Appeals decision in the Calvert Cliffs case over 25 years ago, no power plant may be built without a thorough socioeconomic impact statement. Yet, schemes to alter the entire supply system of a state - or even the nation - are currently proposed with only cursory attention to socioeconomic consequences.
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.
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
The larger companies are winning more business. But how will
they fit into a restructured industry?
Put 45 energy service companies (ESCos) into a $1-billion market, and they easily average over $20 million each. That's almost four dozen companies exploiting a niche an eighth the size of the microprocessor industry.
So it's easy to understand why new ESCos, half with utility roots, enter the fray weekly.
Lori A. Burkhart
The beleaguered Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) has a new assailant (em U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). Stearns's bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2562, the "Ratepayer Protection Act," proposes repeal of section 210 of PURPA, which requires electric utilities to purchase power at avoided costs.
Andrea L. Kelly and Donald E. Gaines
When an electric utility invests in a resource to serve its customers, it does so with the belief that the asset underlying the investment can be pledged as collateral to secure debt capital. But what happens if the asset is not owned by the company and, therefore, provides no collateral? The following situations illustrate:
Electric utility "A" chooses to build a small generating plant to meet the future needs of its growing customer base.
Robert L. Bradley, Jr.
California has led the nation in utility expenditures for ratepayer-subsidized energy conservation, also called
demand-side management (DSM).1
With broad-based support from utilities, consumer representatives, environmentalists, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and the California Energy Commission (CEC), some $1.8 billion has been spent since 1990 (and $
Electric utilities nationwide are attempting to retreat from commitments to energy efficiency (em a retreat that will benefit few customers, while damaging many. This retreat is driven by fear of retail wheeling (em that consumers will be able to shop for the lowest prices among competing entities. In turn, the threat of retail wheeling has spurred utilities to a frantic scramble to cut costs and trim rates.
Phillip S. Cross
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), in a case of first impression, has approved a request by Puget Sound Power & Light Co. to finance the full amount of its unamortized conservation investment through a new Conservation Asset Transaction and a Pooling Service Agreement. Estimated savings to the company associated with the financing arrangement total $22.7 million, with $19.9 million passed through to ratepayers and the rest allocated to the benefit of shareholders.