FERC finds the states have teeth, too.
State utility regulators sometimes can seem more like wolves than sheep—a sure sign that a single vision of utility competition may never emerge.
FERC Chairman Pat Wood ought to be commended for trying to extend a hand of cooperation to state PUCs. But certainly he must by now understand that the nature of the state regulator, as the nature of the wolf, is unchangeable.
It must have felt like a deep bite when the Virginia State Corporation Commission blocked efforts by an electric utility, Dominion Virginia Power, to transfer ownership for its power plants to a subsidiary of its corporate parent, Dominion Resources. The chief reason, according to the state commission, was that it would transfer jurisdiction over “critical matters” from Virginia to the FERC.
And it must have stung the FERC Chairman to see that the proposed PUC proscription in the last six months has been to halt any type of divestiture or oppose an ownership structure that would strip PUCs’ authority and enhance the FERC’s.
Of course, it’s no surprise that the California PUC has developed an adversarial relationship with FERC after the price spikes. But this time they are trying to stop Pacific Gas & Electric Co. from running to FERC to approve billions in bond issues and reorganization into four separate companies—a plan that California Attorney General Bill Lockyear claims is flat-out barred by state law.