Will the Crown accept the olive branch offered by its colony, or will conflict ensue? That was the question posed on July 13 by Thomas Page, CEO of San Diego Gas and Electric Co., at the "Western States Workshop on California Restructuring," the first industrywide meeting to discuss the policy proposals issued six weeks before by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).The Crown sent its emissaries.
Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1995
A recent Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) report, Sharpening the Competitive Edge, finds that, by focusing on improved economic performance and undertaking a range of individual and industry initiatives, utilities reduced nuclear plant operating and maintenance (O&M) expenses by 8 percent between 1994 and 1995.
"Througout much of the
history of generation, technology
devolved at a very slow pace after
the construction of the first generation
of large central generation stations. With
the development of nuclear energy in the
1940s and 1950s, the government promoted an
alternative energy source that was expected to
provide a cheap source of power as well as
provide a source of plutonium for nuclear
The debate today in many state capitals is whether electric restructuring will help or hurt the residential and small commercial customer.
Proponents of wholesale and retail wheeling foresee a positive result. They claim that residential and small commercial electric consumers stand to gain as much from competition in electric generation as do large industrial customers with high load factors.
Metropolitan Edison Co. (ME) and Pennsylvania Electric Co. (PE), subsidiaries of General Public Utilities Corp. (GPU), have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for rehearing on parts of its July 6 order, which the two companies had challenged under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act in Pennsylvania (Docket No. EL95-41-000).
Specifically, the utilities had challenged the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's (PUC's) method of using a coal plant proxy to calculate a default level of avoided costs.
Electric utilities nationwide are attempting to retreat from commitments to energy efficiency (em a retreat that will benefit few customers, while damaging many. This retreat is driven by fear of retail wheeling (em that consumers will be able to shop for the lowest prices among competing entities. In turn, the threat of retail wheeling has spurred utilities to a frantic scramble to cut costs and trim rates.
About 30 states have begun (em
either through the legislature, the utility commission, informal working groups, or some combination of these (em to consider issues such as retail wheeling, unbundled utility structures, and alternative rate regulation.1 California's "Blue Book" hearings have drawn the most attention, but significant efforts are also underway elsewhere. Although each state is approaching the issue in its own way, successful industry restructuring will ultimately require coordination across state lines.
California has led the nation in utility expenditures for ratepayer-subsidized energy conservation, also called
demand-side management (DSM).1
With broad-based support from utilities, consumer representatives, environmentalists, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and the California Energy Commission (CEC), some $1.8 billion has been spent since 1990 (and $
While setting rates for Union Gas Ltd., a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), the Ontario Energy Board found the LDC's demand-side management (DSM) plan deficient and ordered shareholders to bear the cost of any required remedies. The Board found, however, that denying the DSM budget would make it harder for the LDC to accomplish energy conservation and environmental objectives and, would run contrary to the public interest.
On the morning after Labor Day, back from one last beach fling, Wall Street Journal assistant features editor Max Boot published an editorial castigating California Gov. Pete Wilson for his alleged failure to "take a stand" on electric deregulation in the Golden State ("California's Governor isn't Plugged into Deregulation Debate," Sept. 5, 1995, p. A15). "There's a leadership vacuum here," writes Boot. "Governor Wilson is partly responsible for the problem ... he appointed Mr. Fessler and the other PUC members.