News Digest was compiled by Carl J. Levesque, editorial assistant, Lori A. Burkhart, contributing legal editor, and Bruce W. Radford, editor. For continual news updates, see www.pur.com.Nuclear Power
Transmission & ISOs
Transco Independence. Granting Entergy's request for a declaratory order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled in a case of first impression that a stand-alone transmission company ("transco") would meet the test in Order 888 for independent system operators despite passive ownership by a power producer or other market participant.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
Distributed Generation. California opened a rulemaking proceeding to consider regulatory reforms in electricity distribution service, with a possible focus on distributed generation. The commission emphasized that its intent was not to define new policies, but to gather information. Comments are due March 17, and the commission intends to consider a proposal from the assigned commissioner this summer. Rulemaking 98-12-015, Dec. 17, 1998 (Calif. P.U.C.).
Gas Transportation Rates.
Bruce W. Radford
As utility takeovers break new ground, the FERC ponders proposed rules, perhaps already out of date.
A year ago, when U.S. Antitrust Czar Joel Klein talked of a "window of opportunity" for electric utility mergers, he didn't predict when it would close.
And it hasn't yet.
In the 12 months leading up to January 1998, when Klein had addressed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission through its "Distinguished Speakers" series, only the ill-timed Primergy deal had been turned down. The next year, 1998, would prove no different.
Charles W. Thurston
Projects sprout in the United States and overseas, pushing the limits of grid capacity, turbine manufacturers and available sites.
Merchant power plants are emerging en masse to address the growing electricity needs of the United States and other countries, thanks to deregulation and fearless developers. While some plants are built to replace older, less-efficient utility-owned units, others would serve demand growth. Still more are planned as niche-oriented peakers - ready to supply the grid when marginal prices rise high enough. Ancillary services might offer another niche.
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
These executives are energizing the power business with their persistence, ideas and pure gut instincts.
What is an innovator? Must he, or she, be an inventor? Or merely an idea-prone CEO with a knack for building a string of successful companies? Or could an innovator be both a scientist and CEO?
In this first-ever feature, Fortnightly has chosen innovators from all segments of the energy business.
Carl J. Levesque
Hurdles loom in 10 states eyeing deregulation.
Lawsuits and delayed deadlines. A "go slow" approach and more studies. Stranded cost debates and commission reports that make recommendations but avoid concrete action.
With a new wave of states addressing electric competition, these are a few of the themes that have emerged in 1998. In most states, the process has been slow, though the start of competition does, in fact, appear closer in many.
THE AVERAGE UTILITY EXECUTIVE IS A "'NAVEL-gazing'" introvert, according to Frank Ruotolo. But that executive isn't alone.
Ruotolo is president of The Futures Group, a Connecticut company that has examined how much time U.S. executives spend looking at external factors - new markets, competition, regulatory constraints - versus internal factors such as budgets, organization, and human and capital resources.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
NOX EMISSIONS. Generating heavy criticism from industry, on September 24 the Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited final rules on nitrogen oxide emissions, outlining a plan to reduce NOx by 28 percent by year 2007 in some 22 states and the District of Columbia, with state implementation plans due by September 1999 and controls in place by 2003, to be carried out through a "cap and trade" program to buy and sell NOx emissions credits.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Beth Lewis
ISO GUIDELINES. Marking a contrast with California, but lining up with states in the Northeast, the Iowa Utilities Board has urged that independent system operators should have authority to order redispatch to help fulfill service requirements for electric transmission. That rule came as part of a set of principles issued by the board to guide the formation of ISOs in managing electric transmission systems and preventing the exercise of market power.
Joseph F. Schuler Jr.
Robert W. Shaw JR. IS A BETTING MAN. Shaw's Aretê Corp. venture capital fund has invested $100 million in energy technology. This year the Center Harbor, N.H., fund set aside $30 million to invest in micro-generation technologies. Already the fund has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into more than a half-dozen companies trying to develop microturbines, fuel cells and other promising small-scale generation.
"This is a hot corner," Shaw says.
Shaw bucks naysayers like Ralph Selvig of VentureOne Corp., a San Francisco firm that tracks the venture capital industry.