Ahmad Faruqui and Laurence D. Kirsch
As the U.S. electric power industry unbundles, the industry and its regulators grapple with two big questions concerning the degree to which distribution services should be unbundled. First, what groups of distribution activities can separate suppliers provide? Second, which of these groups of activities should be open to competition?
Looking at the unbundling experiences of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Norway and the United Kingdom sheds light on these questions. The distribution unbundling of the U.S. gas and telecommunications industries provides additional insights.
James P. O'Brien
THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY HAD A novel idea: For power plants and sources relying on devices to control air emissions, rather than attempt to monitor the actual physical emissions to determine compliance with federal law, it simply would require inspections and tests of the performance of the control device. %n1%n
This strategy was formalized in the EPA's compliance assurance monitoring (CAM) rule signed Oct. 17, 1997. The EPA's theory is that if the control device is working properly, it is likely pollutant emissions fall within the required limits.
THE PEOPLE HAVE spoken. They want choice in power supply in California and in other states. But people are also "load," at least in utility parlance. And some load in some areas can prove awfully difficult to serve. They're called "load pockets."
A load pocket is formed when a deficiency in transmission capacity to a market area cannot be priced away sufficiently to clear the market during peak-load periods. Consequently, the market area must rely on "must-run," local generation units during part of or all of the year.
Frederick Moring and Raymond F. Monroe
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS THE NATION'S SINGLE largest energy consumer. It buys billions of dollars of electricity and natural gas from utilities each year. Deregulation, and the competition it brings, will change how the government buys these services.
For utilities that signed contracts with the government in the past few years, the future may be here. Utilities must read their contracts carefully; they must know which rules apply to them, and try to comply. Noncompliance can lead to criminal and civil penalties for the utility and its employees.
Phillip S. Cross
WITH DIRECT ACCESS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN ON Jan. 1, 1998, California regulators are moving quickly to set up their long-considered policies on electric restructuring. The restructuring actions touch nearly every aspect of electric regulation in the state from financing decisions and rate design to the sale of generating assets and monitoring new capital additions.
In addition, restructuring has affected ongoing regulatory activities such as the development of performance-based rate making plans and pricing and rate designs for large incumbent utilities.
Lori M. Rodgers
A state-by-state look at retail competition.
RHODE ISLAND'S CUSTOMER CHOICE PROGRAM FOR LARGE-industrial and government consumers is five months old. California consumers will see retail choice on Jan. 1. New York, Illinois, Idaho and Washington have pilot programs well under way. And a statewide pilot program was set to begin this month in Pennsylvania.
Yet retail choice may prove vulnerable in New Hampshire (em the one state that has shown the greatest commitment to retail choice.
Howard M. Spinner
Competing for the underappreciated electric customer.
IT MAY APPEAR ODD THAT, IN MOVING TO COMPETITION, A KEY
cost characteristic surrounding the production and consumption of non-storable electric power (em i.e., its pattern of use (em is deemed too expensive, too impracticable or unnecessary to measure. %n1%n
One problem stems from the dynamic nature of electric consumption. Electric consumers impose costs on suppliers and distributors. Current rate structures employing a demand charge are imperfect because demand is not necessarily measured at the time of system peak.
Bruce W. Radford
THE FERC TAKES SUGGESTIONS ON THE FUTURE OF THE GAS INDUSTRY.
Earlier this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opened a discussion of issues facing the natural gas industry. Its aim? To set "regulatory goals and priorities" for the era following from Order 636, issued in 1992. %n1%n
To gather input, the FERC scheduled a two-day public conference. It asked for comments on a myriad of topics, ranging from cost-of-service rates to hourly gas pricing and services.
Cliff Rochlin, and Roger Clayton
Divide the grid by usage (em local vs. regional. Apportion costs accordingly, to energy customers by fixed charge, and power producers by flow and distance.
Traditionally, utilities have received transmission costs through an average, rolled-in access fee, or postage-stamp approach. In a deregulated environment, that approach will lead to distorted pricing.
And not just because of transmission-line congestion.
Much of the current debate over electric transmission pricing has centered on the various competing methods of congestion pricing, such as zonal vs.
John S. Ferguson
In aiming to make financial statements more meaningful, will FASB instead make them indecipherable?
By mid-summer, a total of 123 companies had cranked out some 574 pages of comments, detailing exactly what they thought of the accounting rules proposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to cover the closure or removal of certain long-lived assets. %n1%n The FASB's"Exposure Draft," issued early last year, had requested comments on eight issues. The respondents answered as requested, but also raised a host of new questions.