Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1996

Tribe's Choice Causes Lawsuit

Madison Gas and Electric Co. (MGE) has filed a lawsuit in court and a complaint at the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) against Wisconsin Power & Light Co. (WP&L), because WP&L will provide electricity to the Ho-Chunk Tribe's new bingo hall, located in MGE territory.

The 43-acre site does not currently receive service from either utility, but both have distribution infrastructure nearby.

Perspective

With little fanfare, most aspects of the U.S. energy system seem to have settled into a fairly stable, predictable pattern. To my mind, we have reached an "energy plateau" likely to persist for maybe a decade or more into the future.

Energy is not now high on the radar screen of the general public, so there is little public pressure for significant change in the U.S. energy system.

Power Pundits Make Their Pitches

Two congressmen and a Clinton Administration official recently weighed in on the future of electric industry deregulation, giving observers an inkling of what they might expect in legislation or policy this year.

Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA), the ranking minority member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, spoke before the Electric Generation Association (EGA) January 22. Just three days later he introduced S. 1526.

Mojave Gets Green Light, But Troubles Persist

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued an order denying rehearing, effectively allowing Mojave Pipeline Co. (MP) to construct and operate its Northward Expansion Facilities in California (Docket No. CP93-258-007). The FERC has already issued five substantive orders in the proceeding.

Especially contentious was the clash with the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) over jurisdiction, leading to a February 1995 FERC order holding that the Northward Expansion was an interstate pipeline subject to federal oversight.

To Pool or Not to Pool? Toward a New System of Governance

What are the essential characteristics of the system of governance that will be required for a new, North American electric industry with interconnected and interdependent transmission networks and trading areas?

Electric transmission networks are natural monopolies, as are the many independent network

control systems that coordinate the use of generators and loads and preserve system reliability.

The Year Ends With a Bang

Public utility stocks showed no signs of letting up during the fourth quarter of 1995. The Public Utilities Stock Index rallied a brisk 234.66 points, or 6.38 percent, to close at 3910.01. Not to be outdone, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 355.86 points, or 7.47 percent, to close at 5117.12, and the S&P 500 Stock Index climbed 34.21 points, or 5.88 percent, to close at 615.93.

Certain stocks sparkled more than others:

SCANA Corp.

The Power Exchange: California Goes Competitive

Nearly three years on from the Yellow Book,1 after many long hours and thousands (em if not millions (em of pages, and following much bitter debate (linked with some murky politics), the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) by a 3-2 majority has at last published an Order2 to introduce competition for retail customers.

The decision contains four main proposals:

s market structure

s access for custo

Colorado Revamps DSM Inquiry

The Colorado Public Service Commission (PSC) has renewed its commitment to rate recovery of costs associated with utility-sponsored demand-side management (DSM) programs. At the same time, however, it has formally rejected a series of broader-based rate reforms under development since 1991. The rulings came in a case involving the Public Service Co. of Colorado, an electric utility. The PSC found a "ubiquitous lack of support" for mechanisms to encourage utility conservation investments that could reduce total system costs, but might also reduce sales levels.

Playing the Pool: Can Everybody Win?

As electric restructuring spreads around the nation and the world, the idea of a "PoolCo" spot market (pool) gains credence. Pools already exist in England, Australia, Norway, Alberta, and Argentina. On December 20,1 the California Public Utilities Commission formally proposed a pool, called the California Power Exchange, to begin operation as of January 1, 1998.