John F. Mandt and Karl R. Moor
For the partners in a utility merger, the celebration must wait. After opening the most delicate of dialogues, and then negotiating the price and closing the deal, the merger partners must yet gain the approval of regulators. The application may lie sealed in its FedEx pouch, safely on its way to Washington.
Robert J. Michaels
Differences of opinion make for good horse races and bad jokes about economists, and those who are studying the recent wave of electric utility merger announcements have not let us down. Some of these economists optimistically believe that the mergers act as forces for competition, since they will combine corporate assets and staffs to bolster operating efficiency and market acumen at the merged companies. Other economists, who see transmission as the root of monopoly power, are more pessimistic.
Leonard S. Hyman
At Addison Mizner's pink fantasy on a Spanish theme, the Boca Raton Resort, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) waited for Godot. Yes, that was the theme of EEI's 30th financial conference, and its first plunge into literature. You may remember the play, in which two hobos talk endlessly while waiting for the mysterious Godot, who has not yet arrived by the final curtain. In the same way, electric utilities and those who invest in them have been awaiting the advent of restructuring, the California remake of the industry, retail wheeling somewhere, and the wipeout of stranded assets.
Lori A. Burkhart
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has denied a Jersey Central Power & Light Co. (JCPL) request that it invalidate the procedures used by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to implement the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) (Docket No. EL95-36-000).
JCPL claimed that state procedures required it to enter into a purchase agreement with a qualifying facility, Freehold Cogeneration Associates, L.P., for 100 megawatts of power at rates that exceeded JCPL's avoided cost at the time of contract execution and approval.
Lori A. Burkhart
A new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order in the restructuring proceeding for Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America (NGP) suggests how the Commission will handle evolving issues in natural gas decontracting (Docket Nos. RP95-326-000).
NGP had asked to implement its compliance rates for new services in conjunction with a deferred-cost mechanism, allowing it to defer collection of revenue shortfall it allegedly would experience under those rates.
Lori A. Burkhart
Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) has introduced a bill to replace the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA) with a new holding company act that would give the utility industry greater flexibility. Endorsed by a bipartisan group of senators, the bill is co-sponsored by Frank Murkowski (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and J.
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
The Gas Industry Standards Board (GISB) has extended its lifespan and broadened its scope to tighten business practices and improve electronic transactions.
At its first-ever annual meeting, held in Baltimore, MD, GISB also was gently chided and commended by James J. Hoecker of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC): "I submit to you that GISB must not, in an attempt to please everyone, set standards at the lowest common denominator.
Fifteen aluminum and chemical companies in the Northwest have joined together under the name "Direct Service Industries Inc." (DSI). Together, the 15 companies account for about 30 percent of BPA sales (3,000 megawatts (Mw)). Seven of them have forced the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to negotiate a cut-rate electric supply
contract, although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has yet to approve the new rates. These companies will now take 75 percent of their total requirements from BPA (about 1,300 Mw).
Randall J. Falkenberg
Imagine if the airlines had followed a utility model when they deregulated back in 1978.You and five other planeloads show up at the airport to catch a flight to Chicago. Every few hours the airport operator holds an auction for the next hour's Chicago flights. Delta offers two new 767's at $200 per ticket. U.S. Air bids one 737 at $300. American has six
DC-9's and bids each one at $1,000 per head. When the auction ends, Delta and U.S. Air fill their planes.
Phillip S. Cross
The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued a series of legal rulings favoring Energy America, Inc., developer of a qualifying cogeneration facility (QF), in a complaint proceeding to enforce Wheeling Power Co.'s power-purchase obligation under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). The PSC ruled that Wheeling should be viewed as a stand-alone company, not a part of the American Electric Power (AEP) system as alleged by the utility.