Judah L. Rose
Contrary to findings, the conditions seen in June 1998 were not that unusual. And next year could promise prices even worse (em or, for the first time, real reliability problems.
The recent report by the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the causes of the power price spikes that occurred in the Midwest performs an important service (em it acknowledges that in competitive markets, the price of wholesale power can be quite high in periods of peak demand.
Nevertheless, the staff went wrong in reporting that the conditions behind the price spikes were unusual.
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
Policymakers reflect on how it "coulda been." Nearly all insist "my state did it best."
California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania have deregulated their electricity markets. Yet they're all ironing out wrinkles. California at press time was bracing for a vote on the Proposition 9 recall petition. New Hampshire still faced federal lawsuits filed by Public Service of New Hampshire seeking to quash efforts to bring competition to the state. (See, U.S. District Court, Concord, Docket No. 97-97-JD; U.S. District Court, Providence, Docket No.
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.
Stanley A. Klein
ELECTRIC POWER SYSTEMS ARE HEAVILY DEPENDENT ON computers and communications. The electric power industry is reputed to be the third largest user of computers and communications, behind government and the banking industry. When regulators and legislators make decisions regarding the electric power industry, their decisions often carry implications for the industry's computer systems. However, it is rare for these implications to attract significant consideration or influence in the deliberative process.
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.
Bruce W. Radford
MARKING THE FIRST CASE of a voluntary agreement in a region not previously organized as a tight power pool, or compelled to act by state legislation, a group of 10 operating electric utilities won approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on September 16 to form the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc., which will take over operational control of certain defined jurisdictional transmission facilities, provided that it complies with conditions imposed by the FERC.
Bruce W. Radford
"THESE ARE THE DOG DAYS OF DEREGULATION." That's how Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman James Hoecker put it last month in Houston at his luncheon talk at the Sixth DOE/NARUC National Electricity Forum. He bemoaned the "evidence of delay" in restructuring that now "clearly exists."
Don't be fooled. What Hoecker has up his sleeve is nothing less than a full-scale overhaul of FERC Orders 888 and 889.
Laurence D. Kirsch
Instead, let the ISO accept more imaginative bids for redispatch
IN THE TWO YEARS FROM MID-1994 TO MID-1996, CALIFORNIA undertook an intensive and acrimonious debate on how to set up its new competitive electricity market. The main issue was how much to centralize market decisions. Those favoring a relatively large role for an independent system operator emphasized efficiency and safe operation of the power system. Those favoring a relatively small role for the ISO wanted maximum freedom for market participants to strike power deals.
Joseph F. Schuler Jr.
FORCING A DIVESTITURE SHOULD REMAIN AN OPTION for regulators in a clear case of market power abuse, NARUC members have agreed.
NARUC's executive committee also has opened discussion on a five-year business plan that would increase the association's visibility, improve its technology and make better use of the $10 million it has in reserves.
Members at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners summer meetings in Seattle, Wash., asked states to give them "clear and adequate authority" to protect consumers from market power.
Bruce W. Radford
No one has yet explained why the electric industry needs independent system operators to manage the transmission grid and a private institution to do essentially the same thing.
That question remains unanswered even now that the North American Electric Reliability Council has released its draft legislation showing how it would recreate itself as NAERO, a self-regulating electric reliability organization insulated from antitrust scrutiny by governmental oversight.
"Reliability does not exist in a vacuum," noted P.R.H. Landrieu, v.p.