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Oct 27, 2014 to Oct 31, 2014 | Clearwater Beach, FL
Nov 05, 2014 to Nov 06, 2014 | Las Vegas, Nevada
Nov 10, 2014 to Nov 12, 2014 | Toronto, Canada

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Public Utilities Reports

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Department of Energy

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.

Green Power Takes Off with Choice in Electricty

Blair G. Sweezey, Ashley H. Houston and Kevin L. Porter

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DECADES, A GROWING NUMBER of consumers are able to choose who supplies their electric power and, perhaps more importantly, where that power comes from. Evidence is mounting that this ability to exercise choice may give a long-needed shot in the arm to the deployment of renewable energy technologies.

National polls consistently reveal that between 40 and 70 percent of those sampled say they would pay a premium for environmental protection or for renewable energy, and utility company surveys reinforce those findings.

Renewable Energy: Toward A Portfolio Standard?

Lisa Prevost

DEREGULATION PRESENTS WHAT IS PERHAPS THE BEST opportunity yet for renewables to stake a lasting claim in the electricity market.

Since most energy from renewable sources still isn't priced competitively with fossil-fueled technologies, many restructuring proposals at state and federal levels include various support mechanisms intended to drive down the renewable generation costs. The initial added expense is a necessary trade-off, advocates say, for the resulting reductions in emissions and energy price volatility.

Off Peak

AMERICAN SUPPORT FOR FEDERAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs is increasing. Conversely, American support of nuclear power and fossil fuels is on the decline.

That's according to a recent survey, America Speaks Out on Energy: A Survey of Federal Energy Funding Priorities, conducted by the Sustainable Energy Coalition.

A thousand registered voters were asked about federal energy budget issues.

News Digest

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

Power Pools & Reliability

SUMMER IN WISCONSIN. Responding to concerns about the electric shortages of the summer of 1997 and fears that they could happen again, Wisconsin PSC Commissioner Joseph P. Mettner has indicated that the state's energy supply outlook for the summer of 1998 appears much better in eastern Wisconsin than it did one year ago.

Mettner noted that Wisconsin's electric supply system is operating with expected reserve margins of 19.2 percent. But he cautioned that electric power flows do not respect borders.

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