Auctioning gas imbalances offers advantages over bidding on available pipeline capacity.
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued last summer, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed a series of auctions for all unutilized short-term rights in pipeline capacity, with the most frequent auction being for transmission rights for the next day. All transporters and the pipeline would be required to release available short-term capacity rights to be auctioned. (See FERC Docket RM98-10-000, Regulation of Short-term Nat. Gas Transp.
Bruce W. Radford
Shaky merger policy finds the FERC at war with itself.
"IN HIS DELIGHTFUL ARTICLE, "THE FOLKLORE OF Deregulation," published this summer in the Yale Journal on Regulation, federal judge Richard Cudahy notes the ethereal nature of "virtual electricity." This new product, he explains,"exists only as a blip on a computer screen and will never give one a shock." "Reality," he notes, has "retreated to the money part of the system."
We could use a dose of that reality in looking at electric utility mergers.
SINCE THE SIGNING OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL LAST December, the Clinton Administration has assured the public that greenhouse gas emissions reductions can be achieved with little or no cost to the American people or the U.S. economy.
Disputing this claim is a Consumer Alert & Pacific Research Institute (www.pacificre search.org) report, Impact of Potential 'Greenhouse Gas' Emission Limits on the People and Economy of California.
Bruce W. Radford and Lori M. Rodgers
RELENTLESS. That's the word consultant Benjamin Schlesinger uses to describe the growing share of North American markets claimed by natural gas produced in the U.S. Rocky Mountain region, the San Juan basin and western Canada.
"Western gas has climbed steadily, from 21 percent of North American gas production in 1975, to 33 percent in 1995," says Schlesinger, president of Benjamin Schlesinger & Associates Inc., Bethesda, Md. "It looks like that figure will reach 35 percent in the next few years.
Bruce W. Radford
WELCOME BACK, MY FRIENDS, TO THE SHOW that never ends."
So said two weary commission staffers, trudging out of the hearing room late Friday afternoon, Jan. 31, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission adjourned its technical conference on the financial outlook for natural gas pipelines.
The hearing ran way behind schedule (em further evidence that before she left last summer for the Department of Energy, former FERC Chairwoman Elizabeth Moler neglected to pass along to successor James Hoecker whatever gene she possessed that allowed her to keep meetings moving right along.
THE RECENT SLOW-DOWN IN RAIL SHIPMENTS OF WESTERN coal has begun to claim victims in the electric utility industry. One of the largest in recent years, the current fuel "shortage" has hit big investor-owned utilities, small municipalities and co-ops. Increased alternative fuel and replacement purchased power cost utilities more than $150 million in 1997.
Union Pacific rail system is the source of most of the slow-down in western coal deliveries. As the company works to integrate recently acquired Southern Pacific railroad into its operations, it has encountered many difficulties.
Bruce W. Radford
I've been learning about venture capital funds for electric utilities. The lesson has run the gamut: from competition to cannibalization; from portfolios to the laws of thermodynamics; from the next new thing to the renaissance of a 19th-century technology.
Some might ask: Isn't venture capital just like gambling? Not so, say execs from two utilities now getting their feet wet in a venture fund. All the same, this story will take us to Atlantic City casinos before it's done.
Lori A. Burkhart
A new report found advances in distributed electric generation, noting a pronounced shift since the early 1990s toward on-site generation, as electronic control systems now allow for remote dispatching, and combustion turbine engines are smaller, more powerful and offer increased energy efficiency.
North American Distributed Generation System Markets, produced by Frost & Sullivan, said that the Clean Air Act of 1972, and subsequent amendments made over the last 25 years, have influenced technologies.
James P. Healy
My business, the natural gas industry, stands at a crossroads. Unbundling and deregulation permeate the market. The next three years will see the end of many fixed, long-term supply and transportation service contracts (em the closing of an era.
In fact, natural gas marks perhaps the last commodity traded on a major exchange that remains captive to such long-term contracts. The demise of such contracts will add flexibility to gas pricing and supply management.
This evolution will accelerate with a host of changes in the way gas moves in wholesale markets.
The Education/Electric Buying Group, which represents Long Island public schools, has asked the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to separately consider its proposal for a competitive electric pilot program. The program calls for electricity purchased at the best price, rather than just through the Long Island Lighting Co. The buying group claims that LILCO has refused requests to discuss the proposal. The school districts estimate they could save $20 million annually in electricity costs without substantially affecting LILCO's net earnings.