Lori A. Burkhart
No clear signal as yet from new chair James Hoecker.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had a busy day on July 30, but observers will have to wait until the fall to learn of any new wide-ranging policy initiatives planned by incoming chair James Hoecker, who has now succeeded Elizabeth Moler in the top post.
The end-of-summer meeting (em and Commissioner Donald F. Santa Jr.'s last (em was marked largely by a lack of controversy.
Sound bites from state and federal regulators.
Build vs. Buy. Finding the "build" option as the cheapest alternative when two purchased power contracts expired, Florida PSC allows Tallahassee municipal electric utility to construct a 250-megawatt, combined-cycle, natural gas-fired power plant at an existing generation site. Docket No. 961512-EM, Order No. PSC-97-0659-FOF-EM, June 9, 1997 (Fla.P.S.C.).
Special Contract Discounts. New Jersey allows Elizabethtown Gas Co.
John S. Ferguson
In aiming to make financial statements more meaningful, will FASB instead make them indecipherable?
By mid-summer, a total of 123 companies had cranked out some 574 pages of comments, detailing exactly what they thought of the accounting rules proposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to cover the closure or removal of certain long-lived assets. %n1%n The FASB's"Exposure Draft," issued early last year, had requested comments on eight issues. The respondents answered as requested, but also raised a host of new questions.
Lori A. Burkhart
Central Maine Power Co. has sent requests for proposals to all parties expressing an interest in purchasing the utility's generation assets, as provided for by recently enacted state legislation.
Also, Boston Edison Co. has unveiled its proposal for divesting its gas- and oil-fueled generating plants, and has submitted its divestiture plan to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. The plan reflects a settlement among the utility, Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources.
Interest in Hydro.
Albert J. Budney, Jr.
Canadian markets beckon U.S. utilities, and vice versa, demanding greater access to transmission lines to bridge the gap.
When I took the job of president of Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., way up North, near the Canadian border, I shared the news with a close friend. I told him how excited I was to be joining an innovative team that was out in front, breaking new ground in the competitive arenas rapidly evolving in the electric power industry.
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has elected Susan F. Clark, commissioner of the Florida Public Service Commission, as its representative on the North American Electric Reliability Council. Clark has served as Florida's commissioner since 1991. Commissioner of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Allyson K. Duncan, also was elected to serve as a NARUC representative. Duncan will represent NARUC on the advisory council to the board of directors of EPRI.
Tony A. Prophet, former new business development v.p.
Lori A. Burkhart
The governors of Maine and Montana (em two states with very different electricity markets (em have signed three bills into law to allow competition in the electric and natural gas industries in their respective jurisdictions.
Maine. Gov. Angus King signed an electric restructuring bill that mandates competition in the state starting March 1, 2000.
The Maine law, An Act to Restructure the State's Electric Industry, L.D. 1804, was signed on May 29. It allows for recovery of stranded costs as determined by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Lori A. Burkhart
Midwest and New England Are Threatened
To head off potential problems, states in the Midwest and New England are reacting now to impending plant shutdowns, which are threatening to cause serious electric supply shortfalls this summer.
The Midwest. The shutdown of Wisconsin's two nuclear plants, Kewaunee and Point Beach, is predicted to cause the state's worst power shortage. In addition, up to five coal-fired plants were scheduled for maintenance shutdowns. To deal with the anticipated shortage, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission on April 22 adopted an emergency plan.
Hossein Haeri, M. Sami Khawaja, and Matei Perussi
Do mergers and "critical mass" really make a difference? The answer, it seems, is yes.
To become more competitive, U.S. electric utilities have embarked on a quest in recent years to improve operational efficiency and factor productivity. The question is: Are utilities making progress? And, which companies have gained a competitive edge? Which have not?
Industry analysts have long argued that given the structure of the markets they serve and their cost-based, rate-setting procedures, electric utilities tend toward monopolistic behavior.
Glenn D. Meyers, Buckner Wallingford II, and Horace J. DePodwin
And why policy on
stranded costs defies
a traditional legal or
There are sound economic reasons why policymakers should allow electric utilities to recover stranded costs through a competitively neutral network access charge, or some similar fee. First, differences in the quality of utility management appear to have contributed little to differences in electricity rates among states.