Fortnightly Magazine - October 15 1995

Improving Competitive Position with Natural Gas Storage

On a cold day, natural gas from storage reservoirs may supply as much to markets as gas from producing wells. The ability to store gas underground not only ensures reliable delivery during periods of heavy demand, but also allows more level production and pipeline flows throughout the year. Thus, some believe that the cost of storage should be spread over all gas delivered during a year, not just gas delivered from storage sites to end-use customers during the winter.

Electric Restructing and the California "MOU"Alex Henney

The California Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement between Southern California Edison Co. (SCE), the California Manufacturers' Association, the California Large Energy Consumers' Association, and the Independent Energy Producers. It tackles three major issues:s recovery of stranded assets

s market power

s market structure.

If the MOU is eventually endorsed, it might be a landmark in electric restructuring \(em and not only in California.

Frontlines

And wires in the air. Together they form the interstate natural gas pipelines and the electric transmission grid. When the talk turns to deregulation, whether on the gas or the electric side, the pipelines and the transmission grid are almost always voted "most likely to." That is, to remain regulated monopolies (em with cost-of-service rates protected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Let's have a look at that idea.

The FERC has unbundled gas commodity sales from pipeline transportation.

Maryland Opts for "Measured" Restructuring

The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) has completed its investigation of market competition and regulatory policies for the electric industry. The PSC chose a "measured approach," ruling against retail wheeling at this time while permitting, but not requiring, utility proposals for performance-based ratemaking.

The PSC described electricity rates in the state as "globally competitive," noting that Maryland's utilities were not encumbered by a lot of expensive nuclear power plants or high-cost cogeneration contracts.

People

Joseph Santaniello has been named director of management information systems for NUI Corp. He was previously director of engineering at Elizabethtown Gas, NUI's New Jersey operating division. Stephen Liaskos, formerly controller at Metallgesellschaft Corp., joins NUI as controller. Michael A. Palecki, most recently of the Florida Public Service Commission, has been named v.p. of regulatory affairs for NUI's southern division.

BICC Utility Cable Co.

Iowa Issues Gas Price-hedging Guidelines

Concluding its inquiry into the use of financial derivatives by the state's natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs), the Iowa Utilities Board (UB) has given utilities the burden of showing that financial transactions are not "overly speculative." At a minimum, the UB expects an LDC's financial position to be "clearly associated with a physical quantity of gas purchased at indexed prices." When discerning between hedging and speculating in a swap transaction, an LDC must show that the swap includes the same quantity, duration, and pricing reference point as the physical gas.

Mailbag

Nice Try!American Gas Association president and CEO Michael Baly's response to my article ("Electric Reliability: How PJM Tripped on Gas-fired Plants," May 1, 1995) concerning the January 19, 1994, rolling blackouts in the PJM power pool is damage control that fails. Here are the facts that Mr. Baly either ignores or distorts:

Forty percent of PJM's coal generation did not operate during the rolling blackouts. At least 80 percent of PJM's total generation where gas was the primary or sole fuel did not operate when needed.

Colorado Opens LEC Market

The Colorado legislature has enacted a new law designed to increase competition in the state's local telecommunications market (H.B. 95-1335). The statute directs the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to remove all barriers to entry into the local telecommunications market "as soon as is practicable." State regulators are encouraged to use "interim marketplace mechanisms" where competition is not immediately possible, with the ultimate goal of replacing the existing regulatory framework with a fully competitive state telecommunications market.

Utilities to Pool Power, Resources

General Public Utilities Corp. (GPU) and New Jersey Resources Corp. (NJR) have announced a pooling plan to manage the natural gas supply and capacity portfolios for up to 25 gas-fired generating stations that supply the GPU system in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The pool will contain up to 1,100 megawatts of nonutility generation presently under contract with the GPU companies, as well as the companies' own generation. NJR will procure gas and provide other fuel-management services in conjunction with GPU system power dispatchers.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds EWG Safe Harbor Regs

Turning back a challenge by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld federal regulations relaxing scrutiny of investments in exempt wholesale generators (EWGs) by electric utility holding companies.
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