FERC this year must select a reliability czar. But the obvious choice could prove less than ideal.
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
NERC up until now has been, in its own words, “a self regulatory organization, relying on reciprocity, peer pressure, and the mutual self-interest of all those involved in the electric system.” Nevertheless, can this tradition of kind, gentle, and voluntary consensus-building stand NERC in good stead as it seeks to transform itself in to a steel-fisted czar that would enforce mandatory standards?
FERC says it won’t ‘change’ the native-load preference, but don’t bet on it.
When FERC opened wholesale power markets to competition a decade ago in Order No. 888, it codified a system for awarding grid access known as the pro forma Open-Access Transmission Tariff (OATT), founded on physical rights, and on the fiction that electrons travel along a “contract path.” Should the commission “tinker” with the OATT, making only surgical changes to make it current? Or, do events instead warrant a complete overhaul?
State regulators grapple with investments, supply planning, and structural issues.
The opposing challenges of higher gas prices and rising environmental concerns have put utility regulators in a difficult position: How can they bring rate stability while minimizing environmental impacts? At the same time, they are grappling with trends in consolidation, competition, transmission planning, and distribution service quality. Each state brings a different view of the changing utility landscape. For insight, Fortnightly brought together regulators from several states to discuss their plans and priorities for today and the future.
Congress revamps LNG and storage, giving broad new powers to FERC. Why the Feds still must consult with local authorities.
A major objective of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) is to counter the worsened conditions in the natural-gas market that began in 2000 and are expected to continue over the next several years—namely, tight natural-gas supplies and high, volatile gas prices caused by a distinct shift in the supply-demand balance. Any noticeable reductions in gas prices that might be effectuated by the act will have little impact on natural-gas prices for a number of years.
Congress allows market-based rates. How will FERC respond?
As a rare amendment to a venerable statute, EPACT05 § 312, New Natural Gas Storage Facilities, made headlines, adding an option for interstate, market-based storage rate making. It would encourage new storage facilities by permitting FERC to authorize market-based storage rates, even when the applicant is unable to demonstrate it lacks market power. After authorizing such rates, FERC periodically must review them.The problem with the new law is that it does not specify those review periods.
Is the predicted crisis this winter a failure of policy, the market, or both?
Given the free market in natural gas, why haven't prices attracted the needed infrastructure or supply? (LNG imports are actually down from last year.) What policies could have been contemplated ahead of national legislation? Or put more simply, why has supply lagged demand?
The new Clean Air Interstate Rule is having an unexpected impact on power generation asset values.
With compliance costs estimated at $50 billion to $60 billion during the next 15 years, the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) affects just about every market participant in the electric power industry.
There is much to celebrate in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, but what will federal regulators do?
When we least expected it, the politicians finally were able to pull a multi-billion white rabbit out of their hat—enacting a comprehensive national energy law (Energy Policy Act of 2005) that will usher in extraordinary changes in the industry However, just how the new law really will affect the industry is the question of the hour, with many provisions of the law left to the interpretation of regulators.
How utilities can take a portfolio-management approach to environmental compliance.
Vikram Janardhan, Grant Thain, and Olof Bystrom
In March 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the final Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR). Assessing the impact that these and other environmental policies have on the whole organization reveals implications for the corporate process at all levels.
EPA flounders on the Clean Water rule, while producers tackle the real enemy—shortage.
Courtney Barry and Bruce W. Radford
The U.S. EPA says that a typical sport fisherman working the Great Lakes would pay $4.58 for the privilege of catching a single walleye/pike, but would gladly fork over $7.99 to land a trout, or as much as $11.19 for a salmon. Sound fishy? Yet the EPA would rely heavily on these data, and other figures quite similar, to justify its proposed “Phase III” rule to regulate cooling water intake structures at small power plants and other similarly sized facilities, to preserve aquatic and marine life in the nation’s lakes, rivers, streams, bays, and estuaries.