Lori A. Burkhart
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on April 30 ruled that petitions filed in the nuclear waste storage lawsuit against the Department of Energy will be treated as petitions to compel the department to comply with a July 1996 court decision ordering the DOE to store nuclear waste beginning Jan. 31, 1998.
Meanwhile, a tunnel boring machine broke through the earth's surface at Yucca Mountain, Nevada (em the proposed storage site for the spent nuclear waste (em completing a five-mile dig that went as deep as 1,400 feet beneath the crest of the mountain.
Lori A. Burkhart
Midwest and New England Are Threatened
To head off potential problems, states in the Midwest and New England are reacting now to impending plant shutdowns, which are threatening to cause serious electric supply shortfalls this summer.
The Midwest. The shutdown of Wisconsin's two nuclear plants, Kewaunee and Point Beach, is predicted to cause the state's worst power shortage. In addition, up to five coal-fired plants were scheduled for maintenance shutdowns. To deal with the anticipated shortage, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission on April 22 adopted an emergency plan.
The California Public Utilities Commission elected members to two boards overseeing energy efficiency and low-income programs. The board for energy efficiency programs members are: Acting Chair Sara Steck Myers, CEERT; Dave Gamson, CPUC commissioner advisor; Michael Messenger, California Energy Commission; Peter Miller, Natural Resources Defense Council; Mark Thayer, San Diego State University; Ortensia Lopez, Greenlining Institute; Charles Goldman, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; Michael Shame, UCAN; and Don Schultz, CPUC Office of Ratepayer Advocates.
George A. Avery
Too many rules can make any plant uncompetitive.
Now, more than ever, the commission must weigh
the costs when it looks at health and safety, decommissioning and antitrust impacts. Nuclear assets seem to pop to the surface wherever one looks for causes behind the current upheaval in the U.S. electric utility industry. The nuclear experience (em with its costly prudence reviews so prevalent during the 1980s (em has helped fuel a major shift in attitude.
Senior utility managers have now come to accept fundamental changes in the electric industry.
Hossein Haeri, M. Sami Khawaja, and Matei Perussi
Do mergers and "critical mass" really make a difference? The answer, it seems, is yes.
To become more competitive, U.S. electric utilities have embarked on a quest in recent years to improve operational efficiency and factor productivity. The question is: Are utilities making progress? And, which companies have gained a competitive edge? Which have not?
Industry analysts have long argued that given the structure of the markets they serve and their cost-based, rate-setting procedures, electric utilities tend toward monopolistic behavior.
Lori A. Burkhart
A Contentious Bill Passes Senate (em Two Votes Shy of Blocking a Veto
Recently passed by the U.S. Senate, nuclear waste bill S. 104 lies mired in quicksand, facing a promised presidential veto, not to mention attacks from senators representing those states targeted for possible waste storage sites. Disposal of waste from the nation's nuclear generating plants has turned into possibly the most contentious issue on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Frank H.
Jay L. Witkin replaces Jerome Feit, who retired, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's solicitor. Also at the FERC, Judith Ann Dowd will serve as an administrative law judge. Dowd joins the FERC from the National Labor Relations Board.
PacifiCorp hired John Carr as assistant v.p., global industrial sales. Carr joins PacifiCorp from Direct Services Industries, where he served as an executive director.
Melissa L. Reese was hired by CMS Marketing, Services and Trading as a natural gas trader. CMS Marketing is the energy marketing unit for CMS Energy Corp.
Touted as a panacea for stranded costs, securitization would forever shield rates from market scrutiny.
We consumers display an amazing talent to squander the fruits of our labor on the whim of the moment. Examples might include bungee jumping, vanity license plates or pet rocks. Or just about anything you might find in a magazine stuffed in the back of an airline seat.
Now make way for electric utility restructuring, where the latest fashion calls for securitization of uneconomic costs.
S&Ls won damages when the feds reneged on promises. Utilities could do the same.
It's tough to be a utility CFO these days. For decades, electric utilities have served both as target and conscripted agent of government policy. Utilities pay disproportionately high taxes. Utility rate structures further distort market forces with subsidies flowing from business to residential. These policies actually defeat market forces. To large measure, many of these market failures arise from reconciling the hangover from uneconomic policy initiatives.
The Minnesota Legislature is poised to pass a bill that would allow the state to take full advantage of any relief granted by federal courts in pending cases over the U.S. Department of Energy's nuclear waste disposal obligations.
State Senator Steve Murphy and state Representative Steve Timble introduced the legislation, which has support in both Houses. The legislation was introduced to ensure that state ratepayers would see immediate relief if ordered by federal courts in pending cases in the next several months.