Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 2001

X Marks the Spot: How U.K. Utilities Have Fared Under Performance-Based Ratemaking

Returns for U.K. RECs have proven resilient, despite price cuts, efficiency targets, and the windfall profit tax.

Performance-based ratemaking in the United Kingdom is now entering its third "generation," or regulatory period. Due to the sharpened incentives of PBR relative to cost-of-service regulation, the UK has seen a substantial improvement in electricity distribution productivity, annual gains of 3.5 percent. The price cap form of PBR, incorporating an X factor, is being adopted in an increasing number of regions, from the Netherlands to Canada.

On the Origin of Markets: Electricity Evolution in the U.K.

A story of power, pools, and parallels with the U.S. experience.

Those in the United Kingdom don’t talk about privatization and electric restructuring in terms of getting it right the first time ... Instead, they use terms like evolution, waves of development, and system adjustments. Industry restructuring is an evolutionary process, not a switch-it-on, one-time event, as generally is assumed in the U.S.

Transmission Planning: Weighing Effects on Congestion Costs

Planners should focus on more than just meeting NERC reliability standards.

Do historical costs of grid congestion form a suitable basis for deciding on transmission investments? Further, should planners rely on costs reflected both in short-term nodal or zonal congestion prices, as well as long-term firm transmission rights?

Izzbee, Izz it?

The Energy Industry Standards Board doesn't exist yet, but it's got regulators talking.

More than two years ago, I suggested in this column that regional independent system operators would likely supplant the regional reliability councils as the caretakers of electric system reliability. And that's still possible—if the ISOs move quickly to RTO status, and if the RTOs get cracking right away on adopting uniform business rules. But the FERC may get tired waiting for that to happen.

People (July 15, 2001)

Gordon van Welie recently was appointed president and CEO of ISO New England Inc. CMS Energy Corp. elected David G. Mengebier as senior vice president of governmental and public affairs. PSEG Global recently named George P. Schaefer as senior vice president of financing and treasurer. FERC announced the appointment of its newest commissioners. And others...

Urban Myth: Bush to Help Houston

One of the primary objectives of the Bush administration's energy policy is to increase energy supplies, including the supply of electric generating capacity. Opponents of the Bush plan argue that his plan is nothing more than a scheme to fill the coffers of "Texas"-based companies who supported Bush's election.

News Digest (July 15, 2001)

Compiled June 21, 2001 by Bruce W. Radford, editor-in-chief, from contributions as noted from Carl J. Levesque, associate editor, and Phillip S. Cross and Lori A. Burkhart, contributing legal editors.

The Plague ... of Price Controls

The world goeth fast from bad to worse.

Many public voices today want the government to simply mandate lower energy prices. It is this kind of temper-tantrum-as-policy that makes the Middle Ages seem so, well, medieval, and reminds us why we got rid of kings in the first place.