Bruce W. Radford
CALIFORNIA IS AT IT AGAIN. THE SUBJECT IS NATURAL GAS. What the "blue book" promised for electricity, the newly issued "green book" says it will do for gas.
On Jan. 21, the Division of Strategic Planning at the state public utilities commission issued a new 125-page study, Strategies for Natural Gas Reform: Exploring Options for Converging Energy Markets. On the same day, the PUC opened a new rulemaking (R. 98-01-011), asking for input on the DSP report and posing its own list of some 25 questions on where to go with gas.
Bruce W. Radford
EARLIER IN THIS DECADE, FERC CHAIRMAN MARTIN ALLDAY delivered his famous quote: "Everybody is somebody's native load customer."
Today, that truism has fallen under attack. It could go out the window if power marketers get their wish. One group of marketers has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to open a new rulemaking on electric system reliability. This group proposes to end the notion of transmission responding to load.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
MICHIGAN CHOICE APPEAL. Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley filed an appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals of the Michigan PSC's Jan. 14 rehearing order (News Digest, March 15, 1998, p. 18) adopting a phase-in schedule for electric restructuring and retail choice for Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison. Kelley alleged that the order fails to create a competitive generation market or foster lower rates. He called it an "outrage," that gave the utilities everything they wanted. Case Nos. u-11290 et al., Feb. 13, 1998 (Mich.P.S.C.).
NEW HAMPSHIRE RESTRUCTURING. The U.S.
Jeremiah D. Lambert
IN A RECENT SPEECH TO A SOPHISTICATED WASHINGTON AUDIence of electric industry players, FERC Commissioner William Massey raised a difficult question: "Can ISOs become self-policing institutions, thereby allowing FERC to embrace light-handed regulation of transmission?"
In answering his own question, Massey confirmed a quasi-judicial role for independent system operators (em but only if they are "equipped with proper operational rules, including market monitoring plans that report market power abuses and contemplate enforcement mechanisms to assure compliance." %n1%n
Despite such op
Bruce W. Radford
In an ideal world, legislation would have already happened."
That was Elizabeth Moler, deputy secretary of energy, testifying as the first witness at a Feb. 20 public conference at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The forum attempted to address how to ensure access to transmission as the electric industry builds a new framework to maintain system reliability.
Having just stepped down from the top spot at the FERC, Moler knew what to expect. She understood the limits of the FERC's statutory authority and its budget.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Beth Lewis
ELECTRIC RETAIL PRICES. The Energy Information Administration has released a new report finding that the average retail price of electricity has declined for the third year in a row and remained stable for the first nine months of 1997. According to Electric Sales and Revenue 1996, average residential electric prices declined slightly in 1996, the first drop for that consumer class since the EIA began collecting data in 1984.
Lori A. Burkhart
THE U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT HAS ISSUED RULES that will allow all public power systems to participate in independent system operators without risk of losing the tax-exempt status of their bonds.
Investor-owned utilities are not happy. According to the Edison Electric Institute, the regulations significantly expand the ability of large government-owned electric utilities to use federal subsidies to compete against private utilities.
Meanwhile, the American Public Power Association is pleased that the rules passed Jan.
THE MIDWEST INDEPENDENT SYSTEM OPERATOR PROposal raises the lingering question of whether the ISO model represents a "stepping stone" or a final form of electric industry transmission management. Many players are split on which model would best serve an open electric market: an ISO, or financial separation of the transmission and distribution system from electric generation.
Within the generalized ISO framework, individual members would retain ownership and operate and maintain transmission assets.
Joseph F. Schuler Jr.
DOES IT MATTER THAT NEW YORK'S PROPOSED RELIAbility Council won't be truly independent, even though its distinctly separate independent system operator now plans to require pristine board membership?
Both organizations begin operating as early as July. On paper, any conflict between market needs (i.e. generation) and reliability issues (largely transmission and distribution) will head to the state public service commission or FERC. But reality may force that hand in the effort to restructure New York's wholesale market.
THE CALIFORNIA DEBATE OVER ELECTRIC RESTRUCTURING IS now nearly four years old. And though it is nearing its final stages (the opening is now set for March 31), some of the most important questions as to how this will work in practice are just emerging.
The original bargain had called for the state's three large investor-owned utilities to vest basic control of their transmission networks in the new independent system operator in exchange for maintaining combined ownership of generation and transmission assets (and for a good level of assured stranded cost recovery).