Calendar of Events

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

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Energy Information Administration

Gas Price Volatility: Of Winters Past and Futures Market

Bruce W. Radford

EL NIÑO HAS STRUCK, WITH NO END IN SIGHT.

Consider that Aquila Energy, the marketing arm of UtiliCorp United, has announced a new financial derivative, known as GuaranteedForecast,sm to hedge the weather against forecasts by the National Weather Service. The new product will pay holders a guaranteed amount if the mercury strays, and Aquila touts its thermometer hedge for any of 170 U.S. cities (em be it Spokane, El Paso, Chicago or New York. Why talk about the weather when you can invest in it, in true '90s fashion?

For this heating season, however, it may be too late.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

WELCOME BACK, MY FRIENDS, TO THE SHOW that never ends."

So said two weary commission staffers, trudging out of the hearing room late Friday afternoon, Jan. 31, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission adjourned its technical conference on the financial outlook for natural gas pipelines.

The hearing ran way behind schedule (em further evidence that before she left last summer for the Department of Energy, former FERC Chairwoman Elizabeth Moler neglected to pass along to successor James Hoecker whatever gene she possessed that allowed her to keep meetings moving right along.

Evaluating Power Plant Property Taxes Under Deregulation

Steven P. Schneider

THREE FACTORS (em RESTRUCTURING, TECHNOLOGY AND environmental controls (em now create both reason and opportunity for electric utilities to lower their property taxes, which often make up a substantial cost of doing business.

Property tax valuation is fairly straightforward. Most states compute property taxes on fair market value, or what a hypothetical buyer and seller would agree the property is worth, with both parties having knowledge of the relevant facts and neither compelled to buy or sell.

Perspective

Beverly E. Jones

THE COALITION OF utilities calling to "Repeal PUHCA Now!" has pulled together a first-class team of lobbyists. They have been working intensely on Capitol Hill for more than two years. But they haven't won the easy victory they thought was within their grasp when the Republicans took over the Congress in 1994. The major flaw in the coalition's approach is classic: The pro-repeal lobbyists have been tireless talkers, but poor listeners.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

AS YOU CHILL OUT IN YOUR TV CHAIR, WATCHING THE Winter Olympics from Nagano, Japan, think a moment about Kyoto, not far away, and what the climate change treaty might have in store.

On Jan. 8, federal climatologist Tom Karl announced that 1997 was the warmest year on record, with thermometer readings exceeding the mean (1961-90) by 0.42 degrees centigrade (0.75 degrees Fahrenheit). Writing in his World Climate Report, editor Patrick J. Michaels took Karl to task for reporting only half the story.

Record Gas Demand Means Higher Prices

Robert Ineson

RDI'S NEW STUDY, THE CONVERGENCE OF GAS AND POWER: Causes and Consequences, projects gas consumption in the United States will grow 2.4 percent per year, or a 26.8-percent increase from 1998 to 2007.

Overall, demand is expected to grow from 20.5 trillion cubic feet in 1998 to 26 Tcf in 2007. More than half of this projected growth will come from electric industry demand for gas, which will increase from 4.1 Tcf in 1998 to 6.9 Tcf in 2007, or 5.3 percent per year.

The jump in gas consumption is linked to the electric industry's limited range of choices for new capacity.

Restructuring Hearings: Much Work Is Left Congress Lacks Consensus; Administration Offers No Input

Lori A. Burkhart

AT HIS 21ST HEARING ON FEDERAL ELECTRIC Restructuring, Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said the two-day proceedings were the "beginning" of developing consensus on legislation.

Fellow subcommittee members spoke out on competitive issues at the Oct. 21 hearing, which highlighted their lack of consensus. The Clinton Administration was represented by the Department of Energy's Deputy Secretary, Elizabeth Moler, who said nothing about its restructuring plans.

Inside Washington

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.

Headlines

Lori A. Burkhart

PITTSBURGH CHALLENGES MERGER; ALLEGES COLLUSION

The city of Pittsburgh has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Allegheny Power Systems Inc., and Duquesne Light Co., to stop the merger proposed by the two companies.

In its Sept. 29 court filing, Pittsburgh claimed the two utilities acted jointly to restrain trade. The city said the companies did this by agreeing to maintain higher rates for electric retail service at two industrial sites targeted for redevelopment zones pending their merger.

Gas Storage: What Moves the Market & What Doesn't

John H. Herbert, James M. Thompson and Christopher Ellsworth

IS TEMPERATURE THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN how gas storage is used? Or are other variables involved? Can we answer these questions - and verify the results?

Since FERC Order 636, natural gas storage has grown into a high-profile asset in the industry. As a result, the industry has responded by changing the way it uses this storage. The exact nature of this adjustment is not apparent at a glance; one must first analyze industry data.

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