Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Beth Lewis
CONSUMER FRAUD. The National Association of Attorneys
General, meeting Nov. 18 in Washington, D.C., to discuss electric restructuring, issued a warning to electric consumers on fraudulent schemes and abusive practices by scam artists. The warning encourages consumers to check their electric bills for unusual provider names or charges, and to avoid participating in contests that require a signature that can be used to switch an account.
RATE REDUCTION BONDS.
Lori M. Rodgers
IN THE EARLY 1970s, WHEN THE "ENERGY CRISIS" DAWNED, New York told electric utilities to stop advertising to promote electric use. State judges deemed such promotion as lacking in "any beneficial content," or even "detrimental to society." It took an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for utilities to win the right to tout their product.
Today's questions target the bottom line: Can advertising boost sales for energy suppliers? If so, what does it take?
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
WHAT IS A SCHEDULING COORDINATOR?
At least 33 organizations know the answer to that question in California because by late last year that's how many SCs had filed to act as go-betweens to the independent system operator.
Although the definition varies depending on who's asked, an SC is simply a preschedule and dispatch office. An SC puts a power schedule together for itself or for energy service providers a day ahead or hour ahead.
Phillip S. Cross
WHETHER YOU CALL IT "DEREGULATION" OR "re-regulation," the promised move to competition does not mean less regulation - at least not any time soon.
Jeff D. Makholm, and Michael J. Quinn
WHEN THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION approved a price-cap plan for Southern California Edison's distribution operations, it lamented the lack of a "distribution-only" study on productivity. So we prepared one.
Unlike electricity generation, electricity distribution will remain a regulated business. But the form of regulation likely will change to price caps, mirroring events in telecommunications regulation here and energy regulation abroad.
With price caps, rates are reviewed formally only at set intervals.
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 A. Burkhart
PITTSBURGH CHALLENGES MERGER; ALLEGES COLLUSION
The city of Pittsburgh has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Allegheny Power Systems Inc., and Duquesne Light Co., to stop the merger proposed by the two companies.
In its Sept. 29 court filing, Pittsburgh claimed the two utilities acted jointly to restrain trade. The city said the companies did this by agreeing to maintain higher rates for electric retail service at two industrial sites targeted for redevelopment zones pending their merger.
Eric Hirst, and Brendan Kirby
AS U.S. ELECTRICITY MARKETS BECOME increasingly competitive, large industrial customers will discover many new choices. These choices include the opportunity to modify the amount and timing of electricity use in response to prices that vary from hour to hour. In addition, customers can sell certain electricity services, including operating reserves and load following, to the system operator. And industrial customers with cogeneration facilities can participate fully in bulk power markets, buying and selling energy and ancillary services in response to changes in spot prices.
BY WHAT AUTHORITY CAN STATES FAVOR RENEWABLE
energy in a restructured electricity market?
Renewable resource funding marks a major point of contention in utility deregulation. Environmental groups fear that without some form of compulsion or subsidy, or both, renewable resources will not survive in an energy economy based on least direct consumer cost. However, utilities do not want to be saddled alone with the chore of carrying all renewables to market.
Phillip S. Cross
Seeking to wrest control of public relations for electric competition from private "stakeholders," the California Public Utilities Commission has authorized the state's three largest investor-owned electric utilities (em Pacific Gas and Electric Co., San Diego Gas and Electric Co. and Southern California Edison Co. (em to spend $89.3 million for consumer education on electric restructuring, through mass media, mail, local outreach and a toll-free call center.
In a separate order, the PUC authorized PacifiCorp and Sierra Pacific Power Co.