Calendar of Events

Sep 29, 2014 to Oct 03, 2014 | Michigan State University, Lansing MI
Oct 01, 2014 to Oct 03, 2014 | Washington, DC

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Parties Push DOE for Answers

Lori A. Burkhart

In response to an April 30 federal court order, parties suing the Department of Energy over nuclear waste storage have asked the court to require DOE to submit a detailed description within 30 days of its plan to begin removing radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.

Parties to the suit (em numbering 103 (em on May 7 also asked the court for permission to escrow more than $600 million in annual payments into the fund.

Marketing and Competing

Leonard M. Fuld, and Diane Borska

Identifying a core competency is not as easy as it seems.

Utilities have developed a "Gold Rush" mentality. That is, they have begun to chase after the latest (em and sometimes fleeting (em opportunities, often abandoning their roots and their long-held strengths in the process. Supposedly, this first-in-market race will allow traditional utilities to remain competitive. Yet, all this racing has caused strong regional players to enter markets blindly, without the competitive knowledge or strategic underpinnings that will allow them to succeed in the long term.

Courts, Tunnel Completion Pave the Way for Nuclear Disposal

Lori A. Burkhart

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on April 30 ruled that petitions filed in the nuclear waste storage lawsuit against the Department of Energy will be treated as petitions to compel the department to comply with a July 1996 court decision ordering the DOE to store nuclear waste beginning Jan. 31, 1998.

Meanwhile, a tunnel boring machine broke through the earth's surface at Yucca Mountain, Nevada (em the proposed storage site for the spent nuclear waste (em completing a five-mile dig that went as deep as 1,400 feet beneath the crest of the mountain.

Georgia Governor Signs Gas Law

Lori A. Burkhart

Georgia Gov. Zell Miller has signed into law the "Natural Gas Competition and Deregulation Act," which unbundles natural gas services and opens residential gas markets to competition.

Under S.B. 215, in less than three years Atlanta Gas Light Co. and its affiliates, Georgia Natural Gas and Savannah Gas Co., no longer will sell natural gas directly to end users. Instead the companies only will provide delivery service.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

"People are starting to talk about ISOs on the gas side." So says Jerry Pfeffer, lay advisor on energy industries for Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom, the New York law firm well known for its work in mergers and acquisitions.

Pfeffer's comment alludes to events now unfolding in Southern California, that fount of fashion, where each round of "deregulation" only doubles the ante in billable hours. This time it's natural gas pipelines. Do they have market power too?

"It Would Not Surprise Me"

Southern California Edison Co. has now alleged that Southern California Gas Co.

Nuclear Waste Debate Simmers on Capital Hill

Lori A. Burkhart

A Contentious Bill Passes Senate (em Two Votes Shy of Blocking a Veto

Recently passed by the U.S. Senate, nuclear waste bill S. 104 lies mired in quicksand, facing a promised presidential veto, not to mention attacks from senators representing those states targeted for possible waste storage sites. Disposal of waste from the nation's nuclear generating plants has turned into possibly the most contentious issue on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Frank H.

Financial News

Stephen Maloney

S&Ls won damages when the feds reneged on promises. Utilities could do the same.

It's tough to be a utility CFO these days. For decades, electric utilities have served both as target and conscripted agent of government policy. Utilities pay disproportionately high taxes. Utility rate structures further distort market forces with subsidies flowing from business to residential. These policies actually defeat market forces. To large measure, many of these market failures arise from reconciling the hangover from uneconomic policy initiatives.

Divestiture Moves Forward

Lori A. Burkhart

New England Electric System has received preliminary proposals from 25 potential buyers for the purchase of its generation business.

The proposals, which were due March 25, are from utility affiliates, independent power producers, and energy companies.

New England Electric System noted that buyers would gain an immediate presence in the regional energy market, which opens to competition in mid-1997 for some Rhode Island customers, and in January 1998 for Massachusetts and New Hampshire customers.

Gas Utility Gets Burned on the Spot Market

Phillip S. Cross

Motivated by numerous consumer complaints regarding substantial, unexpected increases in bills for natural gas service, the New Mexico Public Utility Commission has fined Public Service Company of New Mexico, finding that the utility knowingly understated gas cost data in prior adjustment clause filings to avoid commission review of an ongoing gas price crisis.

The commission suspended the $2.2-million fine, however, in light of its decision to prevent PSNM from collecting more than $1.5 million in purchased gas revenues associated with the understated gas cost projection.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

If Jane Austen were writing this column, she would begin something like this: "It is a truth university acknowledged, that a natural gas distributor in possession of a good franchise must be in want of an electric utility to merge with."

That's the rule of electric/gas convergence. But as an editor, my instinct when I uncover such a "rule" tell me to look for a reason why it ain't so. That's why I got such a kick from a recent conversation with Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York State Assembly.

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