Joseph F. Schuler Jr.
POLITICS WON OVER PURPOSE AS AN EARLY VOTE on a nuclear waste bill in the U.S. Senate was itself laid to waste, apparently victim of a contested Senate seat in the state where spent fuel would be stored.
The June 2 vote would have limited debate on H.R. 1270. By getting a vote count, the leanings of senators on the bill would have been tested. And the way would have been paved for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to schedule a second, more formal vote on the measure.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
TELEPHONE BILLING PRACTICES. Citing the filed-rate doctrine, which bars deviation from published tariffs, a federal appeals court affirmed the dismissal of two class action suits against AT&T Corp. that sought damages for alleged fraud. The suite arose from AT&T's failure to disclose to its residential long-distance telecommunications customers its practice of rounding charges up to the higher full minute.
CROSS THE COUNTRY, CRITICISM RISES FROM INVESTOR-owned utilities as public power agencies are drawn into regional or national markets through power pools and the geographic expansion of power marketing activities. Whether these agencies are seen as federally funded or just indirectly subsidized, the complaints remain the same: tax advantages, no reciprocity, exemptions from regulation.
Who really has power over the power? Do public power agencies enjoy an advantage, as private industry claims?
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Elizabeth Striano
PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION. Chief Judge D. Brock Hornby of the U.S. District Court in Maine, decided to allow Portland Natural Gas Transmission System access to electric transmission corridors owned by Central Maine Power Co. The access will be used to install a natural gas pipeline.
Portland received FERC approval Sept. 24 for installing and operating a 292-mile, $302-million interstate pipeline. CMP owns about 70 miles of the electric transmission corridor. The preliminary injunction, issued April 10, gives Portland access to property on CMP-owned transmission corridors.
Timotny A. Bernadowski Sr.
ATER HEATER STANDARDS. Thank you for your recent "Frontlines" editorial regarding the debate on the options for basing new water heater efficiency standards ("Water Heater War," March 15, 1998, p. 6). Your article accurately captures the rhetoric which can result when standards setting actions meant to protect the public, such as the Department of Energy appliance standards, are used to promote political agendas and gain competitive advantage.
I wanted to provide some clarification regarding Virginia Power's comments on the water heater efficiency standard issue.
HANGING FUEL SOURCES. Editor Bruce Radford quoted me in his editorial "Water Heater War" in the March 15, 1998 issue. I'd like to clarify a few points.
Where I'm quoted as saying the Department of Energy should consider heat pump water heaters as separate appliances, my point was that the gas industry could market its own gas-fired heat pump water heaters (not gas-fired heat pumps (em a different technology), using a gas-fired heat pump and attaching a heat exchanger.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Beth Lewis
NITROGEN-OXIDE EMISSION LIMITS. Denying an appeal by electric utilities and industry groups against rules proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for emission limits for nitrogen oxides at certain electric utility boilers, a federal appeals court has ruled that EPA properly interpreted the Clean Air Act. The act allows EPA to set NOx limits for certain electric utility boilers if it could show that more effective technology for low-NOx burners was available, the court said.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
MICHIGAN CHOICE APPEAL. Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley filed an appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals of the Michigan PSC's Jan. 14 rehearing order (News Digest, March 15, 1998, p. 18) adopting a phase-in schedule for electric restructuring and retail choice for Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison. Kelley alleged that the order fails to create a competitive generation market or foster lower rates. He called it an "outrage," that gave the utilities everything they wanted. Case Nos. u-11290 et al., Feb. 13, 1998 (Mich.P.S.C.).
NEW HAMPSHIRE RESTRUCTURING. The U.S.
Joseph F. Schuler Jr. Photography by Rick Reinhard
SCOTT SKLAR, WHO SHOWERS WITH SOLAR-HEATED water, who drinks his skim milk from his solar-powered refrigerator, who commutes via solar-powered car, who tells time by a solar-powered watch, who wears a sun-faced ring and sun-spotted tie, sweeps into a French restaurant on North Capitol Street in Washington, D.C.
Sklar, who has lived the Solar Energy Industries Association for more than a decade, is bald up top, but his hair sprouts out around that spot in grey-brown brillo. Glasses hug his eyes. His beard threatens to strangle him and his mustache pitches in.
Bruce W. Radford
In an ideal world, legislation would have already happened."
That was Elizabeth Moler, deputy secretary of energy, testifying as the first witness at a Feb. 20 public conference at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The forum attempted to address how to ensure access to transmission as the electric industry builds a new framework to maintain system reliability.
Having just stepped down from the top spot at the FERC, Moler knew what to expect. She understood the limits of the FERC's statutory authority and its budget.