FERC modifies its enforcement guidelines.
FERC’s revised policy provides greater predictability and transparency in the commission’s approach to determining civil and criminal penalties under its statutory authority. Despite a more systematic framework, however, FERC retains discretion to assess penalties based on the facts of individual cases.
(November 2010) DTE names Gerard Anderson CEO; Arthur Meyer ascends to general counsel at Dayton Power & Light and DPL; Exelon names new executives, including Calvin Butler, s.v.p. of human resources and Susan Weiss, v.p. of commercial operations; Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions appoints former FERC Commissioner Branko Terzic executive director, and adds former FERC Commissioner William Hederman to its energy and resources group; other executive changes at OGE Energy, Ameren, Chesapeake Utilities, El Paso Electric, Otter Tail, ISO New England, EPRI, AGA, NIST, and more.
Wall Street reform hits the utility business.
Jonathan W. Gottlieb and Nathan E. Endrud
Utilities, long accustomed to regulation by FERC and state PUCs, now face extensive regulation of their energy trading activities by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Under the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act—commonly known as Dodd-Frank—signed into law July 21, 2010, energy swap contracts may be subject to new capital, margin, reporting, business conduct, and other requirements that likely will increase their trading costs and create new compliance concerns.
Which path leads to the smart grid?
A fierce debate has erupted in the utility policy community, with battle lines drawn within FERC itself. In the effort to improve system efficiency, two competing alternatives stand out: to build the smart grid on large-scale demand response (DR) programs, or to build it around consumer behavior in retail markets.
Do regulatory and economic trends favor industry mergers?
Now that some new major transactions have emerged, and financial recovery appears slowly moving forward, utility mergers are beginning to appear likely again. Although regulatory hurdles still impede new transactions, some changes at the federal level are reducing concerns about market power and competition. Plus, changing market conditions and new compliance requirements are strengthening the case for scale economics.
(September 2010) Capital spending and commodity prices are driving changes in financial performance. The 2010 Fortnightly 40 report shows growing success for companies with substantial unregulated assets. As the industry resumes its Big Build, regulatory relationships will determine the long-term strength of utility shareholder returns.
State regulators face mandates without consensus.
Lynne Holt and Mary K. Galligan
New federal and state policy mandates are pulling state regulators in many directions. The patchwork of regulations has created a new level of complexity for utility investment decisions and political risk for utilities and state regulators alike.
Performance standards are a valid idea—if targets are achievable.
Hossein Haeri and Eli Morris
Performance standards are a valid and necessary idea to drive conservation, but only if targets are realistic and achievable. So far, success has been determined by program rationality. A uniform, market-based approach would give retailers flexibility to spur innovation.
Growing gas storage depends on fair regulatory treatment.
FERC’s final rule authorizing new natural gas storage facilities seems to presume market power for pipelines and new storage. FERC should consider changing that presumption to more accurately reflect Congress’s intent in EPAct 2005.
Transmission expansion is only part of the remedy for system constraints.
Building new transmission across the entire U.S. is an idea that continues to dominate discussions about the future of electric power. Many believe large amounts of power need to be moved across the country, or that transmission is needed to relieve congested areas, or to make sure enough renewable power is built. But transmission capacity is only part of the remedy to system constraints, and policy decisions and investment strategies must be based on sound evidence and economically rational planning.