Douglas W. Smith, deputy general counsel for energy policy at the Department of Energy, addressed several timely legislative issues in a recent speech, including that of a federal restructuring mandate, which he said, is unlikely to be passed by Congress this year.
"There never was a chance for federal restructuring legislation this year," Smith said, on May 22 at a conference in Arlington, Va., sponsored by PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY, "Restructuring & Convergence: Successful Strategies in the Energy Services Marketplace." He predicted that there was "almost zero chance for such legislation before the end of this Congress," which ends September 1998.
Smith said that of the six states that had passed legislation and the 12 that had begun retail wheeling pilots as of late May, the most interesting development was a restructuring bill passed in Montana. (See Headlines, this issue, p. 14.) The Montana bill "defies conventional wisdom," Smith said, because the presumption has been that states with low-cost electric would not move toward competition. Also, Montana Power Co. had urged passage of that legislation.
On the federal front, he noted, the White House had asked the DOE to put restructuring legislation together. Smith said such legislation appeared to be set for interagency review. The goal would be to obtain a recommendation from the president by late June.