For the partners in a utility merger, the celebration must wait. After opening the most delicate of dialogues, and then negotiating the price and closing the deal, the merger partners must yet gain the approval of regulators. The application may lie sealed in its FedEx pouch, safely on its way to Washington.
Fortnightly Magazine - January 1 1996
As we move toward open energy markets, new players will be competing to offer consumers many of the services utilities offer today. It will no longer be enough to just meet our obligation to serve. We will also need to provide the products and services that customers value, at a level superior to that of the competition, while enhancing value to shareholders.
To retain customers, utilities need to understand the nature of the market. What customer values shape it?
At the November 1, 1995, meeting of the Natural Gas Roundtable in Washington, DC, a representative of the American Gas Association (A.G.A.) launched a blistering attack against the Energy Information Agency (EIA) for its forecasts of natural gas prices. In essence, A.G.A. complains that EIA's long-term forecasts have proven unreasonably high, softening enthusiam for gas-burning equipment (from turbines to gas water heaters).
As quoted by Gas Daily, A.G.A.'s representative said: "The bottom line is whose numbers are right.
Bunker Hill. Gettysburg. Pearl Harbor. Iwo Jima. The Cold War. Each of these famous conflicts resonates in our history books. Despite the end of the Cold War, we may face another battle, this time between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the states over jurisdiction.
Speaking last fall in New York City, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI), the ranking Democratic leader of the House Commerce Committee, questioned the need for federal legislation on electric utility restructuring, and even warned the audience that passage of any federal legislation in the 105th Congress to require electric competition was far from guaranteed.
The occasion for the talk was a conference entitled, "Deregulation (em The Changing Electric Utility Industry (em Opportunities and Risks," sponsored by the financial house of Bear, Stearns & Co.
By its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on wholesale electric competition, commonly called the "Mega-NOPR" (or "Giga-NOPR"), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has announced big plans for electric transmission.
The FERC would require "functional" unbundling of transmission from generation. The Mega-NOPR requires utilities that own transmission to file tariffs for point-to-point and network transmission services, based on guidelines in pro forma tariffs published by the FERC.
In three similar orders, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given itself regulatory authority over linked and integrated intrastate pipelines in certain situations.
The first order finds the Kansas Pipeline (KP) system a single interstate pipeline system subject to the FERC's Natural Gas Act (NGA) jurisdiction, requiring KP to file an application for certificate authorization (Docket No. RP95-212-000).
As the generation side of the electric industry becomes increasingly deregulated and transmission migrates toward common carrier status, an easily administered and fairly applied pricing system must be developed. The concepts of "postage stamp" tariffs and "contract paths" lose all logical viability. They possess no totally encompassing tie between the provider of the service and the revenues for that service.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on "Standards of Communication Among Natural Gas Pipeline Companies and their Customers" (Docket No. RM96-1-000). At the same time, Commissioner James J. Hoecker urged the natural gas industry to continue its voluntary efforts to develop standards for electronic bulletin boards (EBBs). Commissioner Vicky A. Bailey agreed that the gas industry should take the lead, but warned that it has only a limited window of opportunity before the FERC takes over. Commissioner Donald F. Santa, Jr.
In thinking about transmission pricing for a competitive electric industry, we should remember that the fundamental objective of competition is to increase economic efficiency. Improved economic efficiency, after all, leads to better use of resources, lower costs, and long-term benefits for consumers.