Why deregulation is easy and reregulation is hard.
Even with convincing evidence that deregulation has failed to deliver promised benefits, efforts to restore public oversight face tough resistance. The reasons involve policy inertia—and blind faith in free markets.
Michigan chafes over regional grid planning, providing a policy lesson for the feds.
High prices have turned Michigan against regional planning -- a possible foretaste of what to expect under FERC Order 1000.
Lacking regulatory oversight, financial hedges turn into risky speculation.
Many utilities engage in hedging to protect customers from price spikes. But unless regulators are involved in crafting and monitoring these programs, they can turn into speculative ventures that put ratepayers at risk — for the benefit of shareholders.
A purposeful approach to setting energy prices.
Changes in regulatory requirements, market structures, and operational technologies have introduced complexities that traditional ratemaking approaches can’t address. Poorly designed rates lead to cross-subsidies, inequitable outcomes, and perverse incentives. An objective-based approach can better communicate costs to customers in a way that better serves operations and policy goals.
Planning ahead in a low-cost gas market.
Julie Ryan and Julie Lieberman
IIt’s ironic that in today’s market, as the cost of hedging against commodity price increases has declined, support for utility hedging programs has sunk to a historic low. The ideal time to hedge is when prices are low and markets are relatively calm, because that’s when hedging costs and risks are the lowest. Conversely, waiting until prices rise and markets become volatile will expose customers to higher costs. Convincing regulators to approve hedging programs now will require a collaborative approach to educating and enlisting support from stakeholders.
Achieving the smart grid’s potential requires a revolution in electricity pricing.
Achieving the smart grid’s potential requires a revolution in electricity pricing. Smart metering and smart rates might yield surprising and beneficial changes in the U.S. utility industry. But capturing those benefits will require an intelligent and careful approach to implementing dynamic pricing.
Recent electricity pricing argues for faster, more extensive deregulation.
Was restructuring a success? Prices provide a dispassionate analysis, showing that restructuring was poorly designed, badly executed, and focused on the wrong part of the grid. With those lessons learned, it’s time to explore ways to move forward.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities finds incentive programs may be a better way.
Jeanne M. Fox, Frederick F. Butler, Nusha Wyner, and Jerome May
New Jersey regulators say they have found a way to achieve conservation objectives while maintaining efficient operations, all without placing additional risk on consumers. How did they do it?
Will the industry be able to meet capital investment and growth expectations?
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave states a new federally enforceable right to access holding company books and records, but concern remains that some of these initiatives may run counter to the goal of capital attraction.
Michael T. Burr
Pipeline and LNG terminal developments may arrive too late to prevent a natural gas disaster.
For exactly two months, MidAmerican Energy sponsored a $6.3 billion project to bring stranded natural gas from Alaska's North Slope to an adjoining pipeline in Canada. But when Alaska's Department of Revenue rejected MidAmerican's proposal for an exclusive partnership to develop the pipeline, the company pulled out.