Lori A. Burkhart
USE OF U.S. ECONOMY UPHELD FOR EQUITY CALCULATIONS
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in seven rate cases involving interstate natural gas pipelines, has upheld a new policy on the appropriate long-term growth rate to be used in computing their return on equity. Five of the pipelines contested FERC's new policy, as announced in Opinion 396-b.
The Commission defended the rate-setting method, but decided to allow the pipelines a chance to prove why the rules should not apply to them. The contesting pipelines are: Trailblazer Pipeline Co. (Docket No.
David E. Wojick
Competition abounds at wholesale, but retail is another story.
Will geography, politics and regional economics stand in the way of real choice for electric consumers at the retail level? Consider this tale of two power players.
One competitor, the Indiana Municipal Power Agency, is proud of itself. In its annual report, IMPA says that open access and competition in the wholesale market allowed it to trim wholesale rates for power it delivered to member distribution companies in 1996. "The results were remarkable," the report reads.
Michael T. Maloney, Robert E. McCormick, & Cleve B. Tyler
Open-access tariffs hold the key to capturing the gains promised by electric restructuring.
In a restructured electric industry, unbundling the cost of the wires from power generation may well prove more important than dealing with stranded costs. In fact, stranded costs eventually will take care of themselves, whether by direct recovery, indirect recovery or no recovery. Without proper unbundling, however, a restructured industry could force competitors to pay inflated access fees to the distribution utility.
The matter has drawn a lot of attention.
Lori M. Rodgers
Pocketbook issues, like all others, tend to split along political lines.
Meeting on June 12, Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) and members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee focused for the first time on what customers really think about choosing their own energy vendor.
Nevertheless, despite the shift toward pocketbook issues, and away from so-called "inside-the-Beltway" concerns, the testimony came largely from organized consumer groups, and it appeared split down political lines: urban vs. rural, private vs. public, business vs. residential.
Joseph Kruger, and Melanie Dean
The overwhelming impression is one of growth (em in volume and in the number of participants.
The early 1990s was an anxious period for advocates of emissions trading. Concerns about whether the sulfur dioxide allowance market would ever develop tempered the heady success of the first national emissions trading program implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Title IV. These concerns were heightened when in May 1992, Wisconsin Power & Light traded 10,000 allowances to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Lori A. Burkhart
The Heritage Foundation's recently released report, which finds that national electric deregulation would benefit consumers through lower electric rates, better service and more jobs, has the endorsement of a key policymaker.
If Congress passes a bill to deregulate electric markets, the average consumer's monthly electric bill could fall by as much as $30, according to the report, Energizing America: A Blueprint for Deregulating The Electricity Market, written by Adam D. Thierer.
The report has been endorsed by House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas J.
William G. Shepherd
Flexible prices make markets hum,
but discounts discriminate when monopolies rule.
Many expect that the electricity industry is moving inexorably toward a much-publicized "new competitive era." Companies, regulatory officials and experts all regard the momentum as powerful.
So far, the changes are just beginning, and there is a long way to go to reach fully effective competition. %n1%n Yet even at this early stage, the merger and pricing strategies adopted by the established electric firms may be threatening the prospects for competition.
Bruce W. Radford
Prometheus paid dearly when he stole fire from the gods and gave it to man, but his courage paid off. Fire now belongs to the people. So should electricity, says New York state Judge Joseph Harris, of Albany, who ruled last fall that state regulators could force open New York's electric industry, but warned against hidden favoritism:
"Prometheus," wrote Harris, "in breaking the monopoly of the gods and by giving electrical energy to mankind ... [should] not be demeaned by a mere transfer of that monopoly to the lords of industry.
Michael T. Maloney, Robert E. McCormick, and Chad A. McGowan
Recovery: All FERC'ed Up
By Michael T. Maloney, Robert E.
McCormick, and Chad A. McGowan
The "lost-revenues" approach in Order 888 ignores the fact that cash flow drives
asset valuation . . .
. . . the key to measuring uneconomic investment.
Lori A. Burkhart
Schaefer measure wins praise from UtiliCorp, Enron, and others, but EEI wants relief on stranded costs."The Electricity Consumers Power to Choose Act," introduced by Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-CO), while designed to bring competition to the electric industry, has definitely attracted controversy. The bill has evoked strong reactions from industry players as well as intense lobbying efforts on the part of promoters and detractors. Everyone, it seems, wants to put in their two cents as the bill makes its way across Capitol Hill.