Calendar of Events

Sep 29, 2014 to Oct 03, 2014 | Michigan State University, Lansing MI
Oct 01, 2014 to Oct 03, 2014 | Washington, DC

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Public Utilities Reports

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News Analysis

Lori A. Burkhart

California has a plan to track green electricity, but can it be trusted?

All electricity is the same, but the California Energy Commission wants to change that. It plans a system to authenticate the source of electricity to allow consumers to buy power from specific generators. Standard documents called "Certificates of Specific Generation" would certify financial transactions. Presumably, the plan would help document the authenticity of non-generic electricity products, such as green power.

News Analysis

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.

People

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission appointed Bud Earley policy advisor on electric matters. Earley most recently served as director of the electric policy division of the FERC's Office of Economic Policy. The FERC named Bobbie J. McCartney an administrative law judge. She previously served as deputy chief administrative law judge in the Social Security Administration's Office of Hearings and Appeals.

The Bonneville Power Administration named Jeff Stier its new vice president of national relations. Stier joins BPA after 12 years on the staff of Rep.

The Baby and the Bathwater: Utility Competition, But at What Price?

Anne S. Babineau, William E. Taylor, and Matthew M. Weisman

What the Supreme Court thinks about handicapping the incumbent to level the field for new players.

Regulators today sit on the horns of a dilemma: How far to level the field in the name of competition?

If regulators fear market power in the incumbent utility, and so impose restrictions on its activities and assets, they may impair its effectiveness and thus distort the very competition they attempt to foster.

Electric Transmission: Do State Regulators Still Have a Voice?

Bruce W. Radford

How the FERC's RTO case has split the PUCs into five warring factions.

With momentum building for competition in retail energy markets, and with the real authority seeming to shift to the federal government, do regulators at the state public utility commissions (PUCs) still have a voice in setting policy for the electric transmission grid? After all, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission enjoys exclusive jurisdiction over interstate transmission service. That's the one major utility sector likely to remain heavily regulated for some time.

People

Commissioner Lauren "Bubba" McDonald of the Georgia Public Service Commission was appointed to a three-year term on the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners' (NARUC) Committee on Electricity.

Peabody Group named Jiri Nemec, previously group executive of Northern Appalachian operations, group executive of Midwest operations. Nemec replaced Mathew A. Haaga, who resigned. James A. Beck Jr., previously group executive of Southern Appalachian operations, was appointed to oversee all of Peabody's Appalachian operations in West Virginia.

David W.

Distributed Generation: Last Big Battle for State Regulators?

Richard Stavros

California again is the proving ground. Analysts see DG as the biggest issue since the PUC first mapped its "vision" for retail competition.

No Pain, No Gain: Interoperable Systems Elude Gas Industry

Regina R. Johnson

With so much at stake, why don't utilities ask vendors for plug and play?

Everyone agrees that competitive retail energy markets need interoperable information systems. Otherwise, the high cost of switching proprietary metering and data communications systems could offset savings from customer choice. Standardization reduces the costs of automating operations - also crucial for competitive companies. Interoperable "plug and play" systems can free companies of dependence on expensive, single-sourced equipment. So why do most utility systems remain incompatible from vendor to vendor?

The Internet Solution: AMR Reborn

David Gaw, and Adam Marsh

Roll over wireless, tell your meter the news.

AMR has come full circle - from industry darling to problem child and now back again to the next new thing. For this latest reincarnation, thank the Internet.

Early AMR efforts focused on how to recoup costs through lower operating expenses and more accurate usage data, but infrastructure startup costs proved a stumbling block to modernization when industry uncertainty over deregulation made companies wary of whether they'd ever see a return on their investment.

Now deregulation has matured enough to remove some uncertainties.

Power Exchange Politics: Weighing the Regulator's Role

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.

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