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.
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.
Regulatory structures protect ratepayers in geography-spanning utility mergers.
Charles E. Peterson and J. Robert Malko
Electric utility executives generally view corporate restructuring as a potential source of economic value and a potential partial solution to financial problems that reflect changing business risks. On the other hand, regulatory commissioners attempt to insulate and regulate the utility component of the restructured energy business and to protect the public interest, including reliability of service at reasonable costs.
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.
NARUC President James Kerr seeks harmony among an unruly bunch of state regulators.
As NARUC president, James Yancey Kerr II brings a federalist philosophy that emphasizes state and local sovereignty—and consensus among state regulators.
Two sides of the same coin.
When I became the Consumers’ Counsel for the state of Ohio in April 2004, natural-gas prices were hovering between $7/Mcf and $8/Mcf (thousand cubic feet). In the next year and a half, Ohioans saw gas prices double, peaking at a residential statewide average of $16.89/Mcf in the month of September 2005. The latter reflects the exacerbation of prices, already high, by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the gulf region. The purpose of this article is not to focus on the national security and energy independence issues that arise from these circumstances, but rather to examine what we can do in the United States to ensure affordable and reliable supplies for residential consumers in both the short and long term.
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.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission appointed Joseph H. McClelland director of its Division of Reliability in the Office of Markets, Tariffs, and Rates. McClelland is general manager of the Custer Public Power District in Nebraska.
Colorado Gov. Bill Owens appointed Carl Miller, a state representative, to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The reports that Miller cannot seek re-election because of term limits.
Eric Hirst, and Brendan Kirby
A case study shows how today's typical tariffs can force some industrial electric customers to subsidize others.
There ought to be a better way for electric utilities to set prices for ancillary services - so that customers pay rates that fairly reflect the needs they impose on the bulk power system. However, while federal officials seem to agree with this point, so far they have done little to turn the idea to action.