PAT WOOD III LIKENS HIS JOB TO CLEARING THE UNDER-brush "so the general can march through."
The "general" is the Texas Legislature; Wood is chairman of the state Public Utility Commission; the battle is electric utility restructuring.
To an outsider, it looks like Wood's commission is way out in front of the state's elected officials. Legislators are adjourned this year but the seven-member Senate Interim Committee on Electric Utility Restructuring is doing its best to sort through hearings on market power, transmission and distribution, reliability and other issues. A hearing on the contentious subject of stranded costs was set for early June.
The committee, chaired by Sen. David Sibley (R), may not be moving fast enough (em at least not for state regulators.
The PUC first stepped ahead with the Central Power & Light rate case last year (Docket No. 1496). It scrutinized the utility's rates and decided to lower the return on equity for CP&L's stranded assets. It also provided for some accelerated recovery of that investment.
Wood says the rate case took a hard look at "things like affiliate transactions and all this historic stuff that utilities had done to kind of bury costs and puff up the rate base."
Although the case is on appeal, it snapped back the heads of many a utility executive in Texas (not to mention Wall Street investors). Suddenly, legislated solutions, previously lobbied against, didn't look so bad.
One Case at a Time