Sound bites from state and federal regulators.
Gas Supply Affiliates. Arkansas oks plan by Arkla to continue to rely on NorAm Gas Transmission Co. (an affiliate) for the bulk of its supply requirements, but directs the utility to evaluate its supply options and to "be prepared" to shift to an independent supplier for gas inventory and capacity. NorAm agreed to "rachet-down" its price to meet third-party offers. Docket No. 95-401-U, Order No. 34, Jan. 9, 1997 (Ark.P.S.C.).
Electronic Billing. Michigan regulators approve program by Consumers Power Co.
George R. Hall, and Richard J. Pierce, Jr.
New legislation would tackle the most difficult problem (em low load factors for small-volume customers.
We commend the Natural Gas Competition and Deregulation Act, SB 215, passed by the Georgia General Assembly in March. (Governor Zell Miller was expected to sign the bill in April.) The Georgia legislation envisions a new framework for regulating the retail gas market.
Phillip S. Cross
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has approved a proposal by Jersey Central Power and Light Co., an electric utility, to meet its short-to-medium-term power needs by purchasing power from utility-owned generating facilities located in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Under the agreement, the utility will purchase a total of 700 megawatts of power over an eight-year period from Pennsylvania Power and Light Co., Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. and Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.
Phillip S. Cross
The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling by state regulators denying permission to Indiana Gas Co. to recover costs associated with the cleanup of environmental contamination at former gas manufacturing sites.
The court could find no direct connection between coal tar cleanup and the current provision of gas distribution service, which it described as a necessary condition for cost recovery, even if the property is currently in use by the utility.
Vinod K. Dar
s The technology is digital.
s The medium is cyberspace. The product is a strategic system for billing, collection and customer services (BCCS) that integrates knowledge and choice through an automated customer interface.
The impending obliteration of the business boundaries between the gas, electric and other energy industries will launch a series of convergent waves of change. Executives, regulators, legislators, investors and, naturally, consumers must ride this wave over the next 10 to 15 years.
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
Chair Murkowski Chews Out an Undersecretary. At a Senate panel on a bill calling for the Department of Energy to store nuclear waste short-term, opponents stacked up objections, even renewing opposition to a permanent site.
The "Nuclear Waste Policy Act," S. 104, is similar to a bill passed in the Senate last year. It calls for
construction of temporary storage, a safe way to transport the waste, and more studies leading to a permanent site 1,200 feet below the ground at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Already, $6 billion has helped bore an exploratory tunnel there.
FERC Gives Guidance To Foreign Affiliates. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Jan. 15 denied a petition by British Columbia Power Exchange Corp. (Powerex), the power marketing affiliate of British Columbia Hydro and Canada-utility Power Authority (BC Hydro) to sell power at market-based rates.
The order marked the first time the FERC showed how it will apply Order 888's open-access requirements to foreign utility affiliates (Docket No. ER97-556-000).
"I look forward to Powerex taking another run at this issue," says Commissioner James Hoecker.
Steven Rosenstock, P.E., and Mark E. Krebs
If truth is the first casualty of war, as we learned from author Mark Krebs ("It's a War Out There: A Gas Man Questions Electric 'Efficiency,'" December 1996, p. 24), then certainly the truth has been mutilated beyond recognition.
His article, which suggests that electric utilities have used conservation and demand-side programs improperly (to build electric load at the expense of natural gas!) is full of inaccuracies, misleading charts and other errors.
Bruce B. Lindsay
I was amused and concerned by the allegations of marketing warfare that Mr. Krebs felt compelled to address in his December 1996 article.
Phil Hanser, Jose Wharton, and Peter Fox-Penner
The electric industry hasn't seen so much upheaval since Thomas Edison threw the switch at the Pearl Street Station. Full retail access to competitive markets in generation and supply will challenge traditional ways of doing business. But no change will prove more dramatic for electric utilities than setting a competitive price (em that most fundamental of business decisions.
In anticipation of competition, utilities have been experimenting to discern what forms of the "product" (em electric power (em customers might want, and at what prices. One such experiment is real-time pricing.