WHETHER YOU CALL IT "DEREGULATION" OR "re-regulation," the promised move to competition does not mean less regulation - at least not any time soon.
Fortnightly Magazine - January 1 1998
NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE WHEN THE FIRST ISSUE of Public Utilities Fortnightly went to press. Choose any of several dates - 1915, 1921, 1928 or 1929 - and you wouldn't be far off the mark.
The ancestor of the Fortnightly, known as Public Utilities Reports, began printing in 1915 - not as a magazine per se, but as a compilation of the text of early rate orders from public utility commissions. Annotations and commentary first appeared in 1921.
A SUNDAY AFTERNOON, NOT THREE WEEKS 'TIL CHRISTMAS, and I was holed up at Washington's Mayflower Hotel, attending a workshop (no Santa, no elves) on electric transmission pricing.
I wasn't alone, however. At least 200 others had filled the hotel's East Room near to capacity to hear about such topics as nodes, zones, access charges and load duration curves. The 5th National Electricity Forum, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, was under way.
COMED appointed S. Gary Snodgrass as vice president of human resources for ComEd and its parent company, Unicom Corp.
The board of directors of Bay State Gas Co. elected Debra P. Cornish vice president of culture development. Previously, Cornish held positions as manager, compensation and employee relations, cost analyst and external reporting analyst.
MCN Investment Corp. promoted Joseph L. Roberts Jr. to president from vice president of MCNIC Pipeline & Processing Co. Roberts was also elected to the MCNIC board of directors. He remains vice president of MCNIC Power Co.
MAINE YANKEE PRUDENCE. The Maine Public Utilities
Commission will investigate the prudence of Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co.'s decision to close its nuclear plant permanently.
The PUC said Oct. 22 that unrecovered investment in Maine Yankee combined with the loss in plant value could cause additional stranded assets for plant owners Central Maine Power Co., Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., and Maine Public Service Co. If imprudent action is found, the PUC said it would take steps to ensure that Maine's electric ratepayers do not bear any related costs.
NERC Assessments are Fine, but DOE Task Force Gets Last Word
Go figure. Plans to shut down nuclear generation in Ontario should not affect electricity supplies this winter within the United States, despite early rumors of chaos and rising natural gas prices. However, an unexpected slowdown in coal delivery by some U.S. railroads has "seriously reduced" on-site stockpiles of coal at some generating plants in three regional reliability councils - ERCOT, SERC and SPP - particularly those dependent on coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.
AT HIS 21ST HEARING ON FEDERAL ELECTRIC Restructuring, Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said the two-day proceedings were the "beginning" of developing consensus on legislation.
Fellow subcommittee members spoke out on competitive issues at the Oct. 21 hearing, which highlighted their lack of consensus. The Clinton Administration was represented by the Department of Energy's Deputy Secretary, Elizabeth Moler, who said nothing about its restructuring plans.
WHO HAD THE BEST ANNUAL REPORT COVER in the utility industry in 1997? It's a tough choice. Several covers emerged from the masses of standard-issue, black-type-on-white (or off-white) backgrounds. Which leads us to Public Utilities Fortnightly's first annual report cover "award" for the best of in a variety of untraditional categories.
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The article "Risk and Rates for the Regulated Distribution," by Maloney, McCormick, and Tyler (Sept. 1, 1997, p. 26) was interesting. For people with the vested interests of the authors, unbundling offers the golden opportunity of reducing regulated rates without actually having a formal rate decrease. That comes about by shifting on paper as much revenue as possible from the regulated disco to the competitive genco, while of course leaving all the costs with which that revenue is associated within the disco.
Robert Rosenberg in his comment on our paper makes a fundamental error regarding financial risk. (Rosenberg, "Unbundling Capital Costs: It Doesn't Add Up," Nov. 1, 1997, p. 46, responding to Maloney, McCormick, and Tyler, "The Wires Charge: Risk and Rates for the Regulated Distributor," Sept. 1, 1997, p. 26.)
Rosenberg claims that as utilities spin off into separate wires and generating businesses, risk will increase in both lines of business.