Bruce W. Radford
Some in California say they will pay double - once to the ISO, then again to the IOU.
What if power prices fall but the savings get eaten up by higher transmission rates? Let's say we unbundle the wires, but end up creating just another layer of costs? We pay the independent system operator (ISO) to run the grid, but the investor-owned utility (IOU) still owns the wires. It has its own costs to recover. So now we pay two bills, right?
The issue is troublesome for California's electric utilities and a quagmire for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. In a new tariff it filed on Nov.
Regina R. Johnson, and Bruce W. Radford
Do state regulators stand to learn more from their electric choice information programs than the customers they aim to reach?
What does it cost to educate an energy consumer about electric choice? Between $1.60 and $2.26, to judge by the public education campaigns in California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
In the first year of their information programs, these states spent a combined $103 million, funded through consumer rates. Though an impressive total budget for three public initiatives, that amount pales in comparison to the ad dollars spent by General Motors.
Five commission chairs from states in all phases of deregulation ponder their changing roles. Will market success make them obsolete?
As most state electric competition plans are implemented within the next few years, regulators face an uncertain future. And they're already reflecting on their role in a changing industry.
Regulatory commissions in both Illinois and California have created panels to discuss the issue and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has held closed-door sessions on the subject.
Lori A. Burkhart
But who gets a slice of the pie?
In August the Bonneville Power Administration released its proposed wholesale electric rates for the five-year period from 2002 to 2006. The controversial proposal is subject to five months of scrutiny, including eight public hearings from Sept. 30 through Oct. 14, with adoption of final rates expected early in 2000.
In this era of emerging competitive markets, relatively low-priced federal power is prized by wholesale customers in the BPA's Northwestern U.S. service territory.
Richard Stavros, and Bruce W. Radford
Federal and state interests clash as the FERC battles California over the future of the state's power exchange.
The California Power Exchange will not outlive its four-year mandate because it cannot compete with lower-cost exchanges, such as the New York Mercantile Exchange, Automated Power Exchange and low-cost over-the-counter brokers. So says Edward Cazalet, chief executive officer at Automated Power Exchange and chief rival of the CalPX.
Becky Kilbourne, and George Sladoje
As the FERC ponders RTO structure, California's incumbent PX defends its unique design.
The great California debate - what role and structure for a power exchange? - once again is rearing its head, this time on the national scene. The resurgence of interest in regional transmission organizations, or RTOs, spurred by the recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking[fn.1] issued in May by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, raises questions about the relationship between RTOs (designed primarily to manage grid operations) and power exchanges (seen as vehicles to facilitate trading).
Investors look at environmental ratings for link to stock performance.
While socially responsible investors have been interested in environmental performance for some time, mainstream utilities investors are looking at the issue for a different reason - environmental leaders consistently achieve better financial and stock market performance than their less eco-efficient competitors.
No, but you're doing more in fewer hours.
While utilities continue to pare staff to skeletal levels, the latest labor statistics indicate that employees, though increasingly more productive, are working fewer hours per week.
A comparison of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' December 1997 and preliminary December 1998 statistics indicate that while staff levels continued to decline at electric, gas and sanitary utilities, employees who remain are working 2 percent fewer hours per week.
Lori A. Burkhart
But preference customers still remain a "vocal political force."
With eyes turned again toward Congress, and possible energy legislation, opponents have thrown up yet another challenge to the sale of low-cost, allegedly subsidized power by the federal power marketing administrations. This time, congressional foes of PMAs have gained allies in several investor-owned utilities and in the findings of a report from the U.S. General Accounting Office, requested last year by Congress to aid its deliberations on electric restructuring.
PUCs turn their attention to what they can still control.
The battleground has shifted. Utilities that last year worried about winning customers in pilot programs for retail choice now face public audits on the reliability of transmission and distribution.
With rate cases in remission, no nukes on order and generation planning left to the market, public utility commissions are turning their attention to what they can still regulate. That means service quality. Nor are PUCs the only ones involved.