Rate Cut Depend on Stranded Costs, Time

Fortnightly Magazine - October 15 1997
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Recharge the Economy with Renewable Energy Tax Credits

A new report from the Department of Energy may confirm what many in the electric industry have said all along: That while stranded costs could dissolve some short-term gains from competition, in the long term, consumers will still come out ahead.

"I'm surprised and delighted that the same EIA, which once wrongly predicted price hikes from natural gas deregulation, now confirms what we've been saying all along," said Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.).

In its report, "Electricity Prices in a Competitive Environment: Marginal Cost Pricing of Generation Services and Financial Status of Electric Utilities; A Preliminary Analysis Through 2015," the Energy Information Administration found that prices should fall 8 percent to 15 percent over the short term. However, with a 100-percent recovery of stranded costs, the EIA predicts that competitive prices would differ little from regulated prices.

In the long term, prices could fall from efficiency improvements or other cost reductions that follow from competitive pressures. The EIA found that reductions in non-fuel operation and maintenance costs, coupled with lower construction costs, could reduce competitive electric prices by 16 percent by 2015 compared with regulated prices.

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