Canceled last August, Enron Corp.'s $2-billion, 2,250-megawatt power plant in Maharashtra has been resurrected. Enron's new agreement with the Indian Government specifies a lower price for electricity (5.28 instead of 6.81 cents per kilowatt-hour) and a $365-million cut in capital costs. A separate venture will cover a portion of the costs in the project's second phase, reducing the overall capital budget from $2.8 to $2 billion. Although the government has not yet rendered a formal decision, Enron expects to begin construction within three months.
Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 1996
The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has upheld a 1995 decision permitting Sault Electric Co. to switch to a price-cap rate plan. The plan allows the utility to roll its existing power-supply adjustment clause into base rates to set initial rates; later rate reductions are permitted with only 30 days written notice to the PSC (see, Edison Sault Electric Co., 164 PUR4th 1 (Mich.P.S.C. 1995)).
A joint study by Arthur Andersen & Co. and Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) cites this winter's dramatic spike in natural gas prices as evidence of a growing need for selective new investment in gas transmission and storage infrastructure. Natural Gas Trends, 1996 identifies three underlying trends:
s Surging demand is creating new bottlenecks.
s Technology is improving the competitive position of gas.
s Natural gas and electric power markets are becoming increasingly integrated.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has directed the state's electric and gas utilities to implement a two-year pilot allowing applicants such as residential real estate developers to design distribution facilities for their projects. (Currently, utilities are responsible for designing distribution plant.) In limiting the experiment to residential projects, the CPUC rejected allegations that the limitation would unfairly deny all ratepayers the immediate benefit of savings associated with the "unbundling of engineering costs" for distribution plant.
Quicktrade, an electronic natural gas trading system created by Enerchange L.L.C. and Energy Exchange Inc., went on line January 8, serving multiple points in the Chicago area and Ventura, IA, as well as pooling points along Natural Gas Pipeline Co.'s interstate system. The computerized, real-time system allows buyers and sellers to trade gas 24 hours a day both in the United States and in Canada (through the Energy Exchange). Quicktrade enables users to instantly measure levels of supply and demand, determine price trends, and execute transactions.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has declined to adopt standards in the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) that concern integrated resource planning and energy efficiency for electric and gas utilities, exempt wholesale generators and affiliated transactions, and investment in foreign utilities.
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has unveiled a "transaction-based" storage program that allows customers to arrange one storage transaction at a time and to negotiate storage fees.The program was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in November. Previously, most storage customers had to choose between basic, long-term, or auction services, which required differing storage commitments that ranged from a few months to 15 years.
As this snapshot look at the seven utility mergers announced since January 1995 demonstrates, traditional patterns are no longer being followed. A number of the announced transactions did not fit squarely into either the merger-of-equals model (little or no premium, fairly even equity and board split, CEO succession plan) or the acquisition model (high premium, disparate equity and board split, no CEO succession plan).
TECC Group, Inc. has identified 14 U.S. investor-owned electric utilities (IOUs) as major players in research and development (R&D), with expenditures in excess of $10 million. TECC's report, U.S. Electric IOU Research, Development & Demonstration Expense Comparisons 1994, places Southern California Edison at the top of the list ($64 million) and PECO Energy Co. 14th ($11 million). In between, in descending order, we find: Consolidated Edison Co.
may be less than healthy, unless you're ready to replace them with technology.
As competition intensifies, increasing numbers of executives are realizing that customer service may have a more important role now than just placating regulators. After all, the broad spectrum of customer service is the principal way (em other than rates (em to differentiate a utility product and the utility itself.