Calendar of Events

Apr 28, 2014 | New York, NY
May 05, 2014 to May 08, 2014 | Las Vegas, Nevada

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Public Utilities Reports

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Reliability

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As utility takeovers break new ground, the FERC ponders proposed rules, perhaps already out of date.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

Special Report

Courtney Barry

September meeting sends draft legislation back to the drawing board.

Reliability is a self-correcting issue (em if we let it slide, something will happen and it will be corrected ¼ [But] do you want the government to do it?"

That was one industry representative speaking of attempts by the North American Electric Reliability Council (known as NERC) to evolve into a self-regulating reliability organization, or SRRO.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis

State PUCs

Electric Retail Choice. The Arkansas Public Service Commission has issued its final report on electric restructuring, citing a "broad" consensus favoring competition. It predicts immediate benefits for industrial customers, but warns that residential users likely will not see any quick rate cut. The PSC saw competition as consistent with action in neighboring states:

• Oklahoma. State law mandates retail choice by July 1, 2002.

• Mississippi. PSC plan would phase-in competition from 2001 to 2004.

• Missouri.

News Analysis

Bruce W. Radford

We are the world's experts on contingencies," boasted Michehl Ghent, president of the North American Electric Reliability Council, appearing in Houston on Sept. 17 at the Sixth Annual DOE/NARUC Electricity Forum. It was the very day day that NERC released its first comprehensive report on readiness in the electric utility industry in correcting computer software problems associated with the dawning the next century, which for the first time will require computers, software programs and embedded chips to the use four digits to identify the year beginning with turnover from 1999 to 2000.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis

Federal Agencies

NOX EMISSIONS. Generating heavy criticism from industry, on September 24 the Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited final rules on nitrogen oxide emissions, outlining a plan to reduce NOx by 28 percent by year 2007 in some 22 states and the District of Columbia, with state implementation plans due by September 1999 and controls in place by 2003, to be carried out through a "cap and trade" program to buy and sell NOx emissions credits.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Beth Lewis

State PUCs

ISO GUIDELINES. Marking a contrast with California, but lining up with states in the Northeast, the Iowa Utilities Board has urged that independent system operators should have authority to order redispatch to help fulfill service requirements for electric transmission. That rule came as part of a set of principles issued by the board to guide the formation of ISOs in managing electric transmission systems and preventing the exercise of market power.

Special Report

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

FORCING A DIVESTITURE SHOULD REMAIN AN OPTION for regulators in a clear case of market power abuse, NARUC members have agreed.

NARUC's executive committee also has opened discussion on a five-year business plan that would increase the association's visibility, improve its technology and make better use of the $10 million it has in reserves.

Members at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners summer meetings in Seattle, Wash., asked states to give them "clear and adequate authority" to protect consumers from market power.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

No one has yet explained why the electric industry needs independent system operators to manage the transmission grid and a private institution to do essentially the same thing.

That question remains unanswered even now that the North American Electric Reliability Council has released its draft legislation showing how it would recreate itself as NAERO, a self-regulating electric reliability organization insulated from antitrust scrutiny by governmental oversight.

"Reliability does not exist in a vacuum," noted P.R.H. Landrieu, v.p.

Consumer Choice in Electricity: A Critical Appraisal

John Hanger

FOR YEARS NOW ARGUMENTS ABOUT WHETHER RETAIL electric competition would benefit consumers and would serve the public interest have raged. Often saying there is little to be gained from competition and many dangers, powerful voices have urged opposition to competition or a glacial schedule for implementation of customers choice.

The Pennsylvania electric restructuring cases, however, should help end the arguments about the benefits of retail electric competition.

People

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS of Virginia Power elected James A. White to the position of senior vice president, human resources. White previously served as senior vice president, human resources for the investment management group of Cigna Corp. He will replace Tom O'Neil, who retires after a 33-year career with the company.

Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced the appointment of Tina Kreisher as communications director of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Kreisher previously served as deputy director of the Washington d.c. office of Gov.

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