Fortnightly Magazine - September 15 1996

Texas Merger Nears Settlement

Southwestern Public Service Co. (SPS) and Public Service Co. of Colorado (PSCC) have promised to credit Texas ratepayers a minimum of $3 million in annual bill savings (em one part of the settlement proposed on July 8 in their merger case before the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC). According to SPS, the proposed settlement represents an agreement reached between it, the staff of the Texas PUC, and five intervenors in the merger case.

The PUC's administrative law judge has suspended the proceeding so the various parties can finalize details.

Long-Distance Firms May Triumph in Texas

The Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has issued a preliminary order allowing Sprint Communications to enter the local-exchange market without committing to a lengthy plan to build a telecommunications network.

The Search for Consumer Content in Energy Marketing and Retailing

The battle to control profit margin really boils down to a battle for the customer premises, where the serious money resides.The gas and electric industries in the United States control about $900 billion in assets (production, logistical, merchant). They employ these assets to serve about 150 million customers (counted separately for gas and electric), but they manage to offer only two rudimentary products (em molecules and electrons (em and at only two levels of service: firm (supposedly) and interruptible (obviously).


"Utility mentality" has become synonymous with a clinging dependence upon regulation to protect an organization from risk and competition. It also denotes momentum planning and management (em that is, using past performance to project future performance. This way of thinking made sense when companies could count on regulators to shield them from market forces and competition.

Generation: Big or Small?

Generation: Big orDistributed power may turn

heads, but economics points

to central plants.

By Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

By 2010, distributed power technologies will make up as much as 30 percent of new electric generation.

Nuclear Waste Bill Heads to House

With President Clinton and the Department of Energy (DOE) staunchly opposed, the House of Representatives was expected to return September 4 from August recess to take up its version of a nuclear waste disposal bill that passed in the Senate on July 31 by a vote of 63-37.

Senate bill 1936 and its amendments call for a temporary storage facility at the Nevada nuclear test site near Yucca Mountain before the end of 1999.

Order 636 Upheld, with Remands

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on July 16 upheld Order 636, which required unbundling of natural gas pipeline sales and transportation services, but remanded at least six issues to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for further explanation (United Distr. Cos. v. FERC, No. 92-1485, July 16, 1996).

The Value of Storage: Today Gas, Tomorrow Electricity?

Open-access economics make stored energy something you can bank on. For natural gas and electric power.You can't store electricity, right?

The old shibboleth to some extent is literally true. The electric industry appears different from the natural gas industry in that demand must be matched immediately with production. No viable location comes to mind to put away some of that extra power until it is needed. But literal truth is not necessarily the whole story.