Retail Energy Choice. At press time, Virginia issued proposed interim rules governing pilot programs for electric retail competition in electricity and natural gas, with comments due Feb. 24. The interim rules were not expected to resolve all issues, but only to provide a starting point to gain experience.
Among other points, the interim rules would require utilities to make information available through electronic bulletin boards on availability of commodity supply, ancillary services, and transmission and distribution capacity. Case No.
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.
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.
Gas Appliance Repair.
Gas Capacity Rights. The New York PSC told retail suppliers that to serve firm retail gas load they must have rights to firm, non-recallable, primary delivery point pipeline capacity for the five winter months, November through March, or else must augment secondary capacity with a standby charge payable to local distribution companies holding primary rights.
Bruce W. Radford
New PRC might revisit PUC orders. By Bruce W. Radford
"The PRC has not necessarily decided what position it will take," said PRC counsel Stacy Goodwin.
"I believe the majority of the PRC will take a slightly different position than the PUC, but there are some legal questions," confirmed Lynda Lovejoy, the newly elected chairman of the Public Regulation Commission.
Carl J. Levesque, Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
Studies & Reports
Year 2000 Readiness. On Jan. 11 the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) predicted a minimal effect on electric system operations from Y2K software problems. The Department of Energy, which had asked NERC to run the electric industry assessment, added that 98 percent of U.S.
Jonathan A. Lesser, Ph.D.
The "duty to connect" demands definition - such as the optimal investment in local wires, and who should pay for it.
As the electric utility industry continues its slow but inexorable transformation into a more "competitive" industry, there has been a notable absence of discussion concerning continued regulation of local distribution utilities, or discos.
PUCs turn their attention to what they can still control.
The battleground has shifted. Utilities that last year worried about winning customers in pilot programs for retail choice now face public audits on the reliability of transmission and distribution.
With rate cases in remission, no nukes on order and generation planning left to the market, public utility commissions are turning their attention to what they can still regulate. That means service quality. Nor are PUCs the only ones involved.
Bruce W. Radford
Micro maverick Bill Althouse sees a grand conspiracy to blot out customer-owned generation.
Distributed generation is out of the box. It's time for regulators to wake up. The paradigm has already shifted."
That's Bill Althouse talking, president of Althouse Inc. of Albuquerque, N.M., a seat-of-the pants business (he says he's near bankruptcy) that helps homeowners and businesses install on-site generation. I met him via email as I researched why, on Jan.