Calendar of Events

Apr 14, 2014 to Apr 16, 2014 | Atlanta, GA
Apr 28, 2014 | New York, NY

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Public Utilities Reports

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Department of Energy

Silicon Crisis? How Info Tech Poses Risk for Electric Restructuring

Stanley A. Klein

ELECTRIC POWER SYSTEMS ARE HEAVILY DEPENDENT ON computers and communications. The electric power industry is reputed to be the third largest user of computers and communications, behind government and the banking industry. When regulators and legislators make decisions regarding the electric power industry, their decisions often carry implications for the industry's computer systems. However, it is rare for these implications to attract significant consideration or influence in the deliberative process.

News Digest

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

State PUCs

ISO GUIDELINES. Marking a contrast with California, but lining up with states in the Northeast, the Iowa Utilities Board has urged that independent system operators should have authority to order redispatch to help fulfill service requirements for electric transmission. That rule came as part of a set of principles issued by the board to guide the formation of ISOs in managing electric transmission systems and preventing the exercise of market power.

Mail

Kenneth G. Maxey

I READ WITH INTEREST THE ARTICLE "TIME'S UP FOR PUBLIC Power," in the July 1 edition of your publication, written by Charles Bayless, the former CEO of Tucson Electric Power Co. (and now CEO of Illinova - Ed.). Particularly striking was the sidebar on page 34, which accuses the Western Area Power Administration, a power marketing administration within the Department of Energy, of hiding costs and inappropriately handling a number of financial issues such as depreciation. I welcome the opportunity to respond to this misinformation.

News Digest

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

FERC

GAS PIPELINES. Noting a move toward shorter-term contracts since Order 636, the FERC on July 29 issued an "integrated package" of reform proposals for the natural gas pipeline industry: (1) specific measures in a notice of proposed rulemaking on short-term transportation (transactions shorter than one year); plus (2) an open-ended request for comments in a broader notice of inquiry. RM98-10-000, 84 FERC ¶61,985 [NOPR]; RM98- 12-000, 84FERC ¶61,087 NOI].

Special Report

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

FORCING A DIVESTITURE SHOULD REMAIN AN OPTION for regulators in a clear case of market power abuse, NARUC members have agreed.

NARUC's executive committee also has opened discussion on a five-year business plan that would increase the association's visibility, improve its technology and make better use of the $10 million it has in reserves.

Members at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners summer meetings in Seattle, Wash., asked states to give them "clear and adequate authority" to protect consumers from market power.

Who's Who Among Energy Service Providers

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

ENERGY SERVICE PROVIDERS ARE LISTED BY THE DOZENS on public utility commission Web sites, often with direct links to the companies themselves. Even so, picking out 10 to watch for their commercial and industrial activity isn't an easy task.

There's no reliable volume data. There's no organization rating the services each of these vendors offers. The ESPs themselves are either reticent about disclosing data or overly boastful. There's no ready apples-to-apples comparison of ESPs available for prospective C&I customers. Still, who is who among ESPs is a legitimate question.

Utility Diversification: Munis Find Cable TV a Costly Business

Len Grzanka

THE OLD ADAGE ABOUT INNOVATION STILL HOLDS TRUE: "You can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their backs." More than 70 municipal utilities have either built or plan to build telecommunications systems with fiber-optic and coaxial cable to compete against local cable television, data communications or telephony providers. Profitability for these ventures has been abysmal, but their customers and regulators are happy. Now large, investor-owned electric utilities are stumbling down the same trail marked with cast-off bandages of these early pioneers.

News Digest

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

FERC

MIDWEST POWER PRICES. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman James Hoecker announced July 15 that as soon as the staff presents its findings, the FERC will deal with the complaints filed by Cinergy, Steel Dynamics Inc., and others asking for regulatory relief from the late June run-up in Midwest bulk power prices (as high as $7,500 per megawatt-hour), and for a price cap set at $100/MWh. Nevertheless, Hoecker advised that the FERC was in "no hurry," and that the remedies available to it were not entirely clear. Docket No. EL98-53 (Cinergy), filed June 29, 1998; Docket No.

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.

Energy Storage: It's Not Just Load Leveling Anymore

Christine E. Platt and Jonathan W. Hurwitch

ACCORDING TO ONE RECENT SURVEY, MORE THAN HALF THE U.S. population now lives in states with customer choice. Moreover, industry executives expect 20 to 50 percent of these customers to choose a new electricity supplier by year end. %n1%n

With changes expected in the way electricity is generated, delivered and sold, exerting pressure on prices, what does the future hold for energy storage technologies?

After all, restructuring efforts appear most active in the highest-cost states -- those with average electricity prices running above 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

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