Fortnightly Magazine - April 1 1998


Cynicism is nothing to scoff at. Cartoonist Scott Adams of Dilbert( fame has made a good living at it. But cynicism has an Achilles' heel. It reflects a certain lack of objectivity. It may deflect serious debate.

Consider the securitization of electric utility stranded costs. Last summer, after Ken Rose had thrown down the gauntlet against securitization, %n1%n I heard him speak at the 1997 NASUCA mid-year meeting and was struck that his message might make mischief in state regulatory and legislative arenas.

Off Peak

While U.S. natural gas prices increased about 7 percent from 1996 to 1997, the country ranked only 10th highest in a survey of gas prices in 13 industrialized nations. But first-quarter 1998 may tell a different story (see "Gas Price Volatility," Public Utilities Fortnightly, March 15, 1998, p. 38).

Gas Prices in Sweden jumped 30 percent over the last two years to 105.69 cents/therm in 1997, rocketing past an inflation rate of 20 percent. The major reasons for the price surge?