Calendar of Events

Sep 08, 2014 to Sep 10, 2014 | Chicago, IL
Sep 29, 2014 to Oct 03, 2014 | Michigan State University, Lansing MI
Oct 01, 2014 to Oct 03, 2014 | Washington, DC

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News Analysis

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.

Off Peak

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.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis

Federal Agencies

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.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Beth Lewis

State PUCs

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.

Distributed Generation: A "Hot Corner" for Venture Capital?

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.

Who's Who Among Energy Service Providers

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

ENERGY SERVICE PROVIDERS ARE LISTED BY THE DOZENS on public utility commission Web sites, often with direct links to the companies themselves. Even so, picking out 10 to watch for their commercial and industrial activity isn't an easy task.

There's no reliable volume data. There's no organization rating the services each of these vendors offers. The ESPs themselves are either reticent about disclosing data or overly boastful. There's no ready apples-to-apples comparison of ESPs available for prospective C&I customers. Still, who is who among ESPs is a legitimate question.

Exploiting the Random Nature of Transmission Capacity

Hyde M. Merrill

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, ENGINEERS AT AMERICAN ELECTRIC Power measured the transfer capability or transmission capacity (in this article we will use the terms interchangeably) between AEP and Commonwealth Edison. Using traditional methods, they found that the winter transmission capacity that year was 3,500 megawatts.

Then they performed a more exhaustive and nonstandard analysis. It showed that during the month of January, transmission capacity actually varied from a low of 1,600 MW (less than half the nominal amount) to a high of 6,000 MW (70 percent higher than nominal).

Utility Diversification: Munis Find Cable TV a Costly Business

Len Grzanka

THE OLD ADAGE ABOUT INNOVATION STILL HOLDS TRUE: "You can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their backs." More than 70 municipal utilities have either built or plan to build telecommunications systems with fiber-optic and coaxial cable to compete against local cable television, data communications or telephony providers. Profitability for these ventures has been abysmal, but their customers and regulators are happy. Now large, investor-owned electric utilities are stumbling down the same trail marked with cast-off bandages of these early pioneers.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis

FERC

MIDWEST POWER PRICES. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman James Hoecker announced July 15 that as soon as the staff presents its findings, the FERC will deal with the complaints filed by Cinergy, Steel Dynamics Inc., and others asking for regulatory relief from the late June run-up in Midwest bulk power prices (as high as $7,500 per megawatt-hour), and for a price cap set at $100/MWh. Nevertheless, Hoecker advised that the FERC was in "no hurry," and that the remedies available to it were not entirely clear. Docket No. EL98-53 (Cinergy), filed June 29, 1998; Docket No.

Canadian Money Targets Power Generation Overseas

Sarah McKinley

CANADA MAY CLAIM ONLY A SMALL SHARE OF THE world's high-profile power developers, but that hasn't stopped its financial institutions from becoming big players. These public and private lenders have made available billions of dollars to nearly any project willing to use Canadian consultants or equipment.

Furthermore, the government is willing to back its country's products with political risk insurance as part of the package. In a world where power projects are becoming expensive and pose greater market and political risk, Canadian involvement is welcomed.

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