Calendar of Events

Nov 24, 2014 | Washington, DC
Dec 08, 2014 to Dec 09, 2014 | Washington, DC
Jan 14, 2015 to Jan 16, 2015 | San Diego, CA

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Public Utilities Reports

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Regulation

Frontlines

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.

Perspective

Branko Terzic

Deregulation, you say? We still haven't seen any.

Let's begin with a quiz. We'll use the multiple-choice format, developed at the University of Wisconsin during the 1960s to address overcrowding caused by the World War II "baby boom." Choose only one of the following 10 possible answers. Be careful. It's tougher than it looks.

Question: What is meant by the term electric restructuring?

A. To provide all consumers with retail access to multiple "energy" providers.

B. To separate the ownership of power generation from other functions.

C.

People

Albert V. Ruggiero was elected vice president for South Jersey Industries Inc. Ruggiero also serves as senior vice president, corporate development for SJI's principal subsidiary, South Jersey Gas Co.

The Bonneville Power Administration announced four new senior vice president positions. Harvey Spigal will return to general counsel after heading BPA's transmission functions for the past two years. BPA's corporate group will be headed by Steve Wright. Paul Norman was named permanent head of the power business line. Mark Maher will head the transmission business line on an acting basis.

Price Spike Redux: A Market Emerged, Remarkably Rational

Robert J. Michaels and Jerry Ellig

The post-mortems on last summer's price spikes in the Midwest are in. At least three studies of the event diverge in their conclusions:

First, on Sept. 24 of last year, the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found the root cause of the spikes in extreme weather and unexpected outages. It observed no direct evidence of market manipulation and concluded that the events were unlikely to recur.

People

Mary L. Schapiro, president and member of the board of the National Association of Securities Dealers Regulation Inc., or NASDR, was appointed to the Cinergy Corp. board of directors. Schapiro will fill the vacancy resulting from the retirement of Van P. Smith, chairman of Ontario Corp.

U.K. electricity regulator OFFER (Office of Electricity Regulation) appointed Brian Saunders, Ph.D., a member of the Electricity Pool, to head the Department of Trade and Industry/OFFER team to reform electricity trading.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

New Mexico's PUC goes down in flames.

This story has everything: politics, favoritism, a stock price crash, extortion (a long-ago crime by a certifiable nut), a utility rate case (I love'em), Ivy League economists (like moths to a flame), and finally, a last minute stay of execution, perhaps saving the utility from default on its revolving line of credit. Heck, even Enron's involved.

What's missing, however, is a clear understanding of who the good guys are.

Score a Deal? 20-Odd Mergers in Search of a Policy

Bruce W. Radford

As utility takeovers break new ground, the FERC ponders proposed rules, perhaps already out of date.

A year ago, when U.S. Antitrust Czar Joel Klein talked of a "window of opportunity" for electric utility mergers, he didn't predict when it would close.

And it hasn't yet.

In the 12 months leading up to January 1998, when Klein had addressed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission through its "Distinguished Speakers" series, only the ill-timed Primergy deal had been turned down. The next year, 1998, would prove no different.

FERC's Mandatory Gas Auctions: Are We Bidding the Right Product?

Mark Lively

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.

Capacity Auctions Might Work, But Only if the Stage is Set

Gregory M. Lander

Make gas pipeline rights more fungible, but draw the line at contingent bidding.

Last July the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed mandatory auctions to allocate all capacity rights shorter than one year's duration on interstate natural gas pipelines. (See RM98-10-000, Regulation of Short-term Natural Gas Transportation Services, FERC, July 29, 1998.) At a technical conference held Oct.

Gas Pipelines Auctions

Bruce. W. Radford

A debate on the FERC proposal to put short-term capacity up for bid.

Last summer the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission truly outdid itself. In a move that left the gas industry speechless, the FERC proposed that it would remove all price controls or cost-based regulation for capacity rights shorter than one year's duration, and instead would resort to auctions for the purchase and sale of such "short-term" rights to transport natural gas on interstate pipelines.

The reason? The FERC said it wanted to level the field between short- and long-term contracts.

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