This overview of ratemaking and rate-design principles should ease the myriad tasks awaiting new rate analysts and attorneys, while provoking nostalgia among industry veterans still manning the ratemaking stations.
Fortnightly Magazine - February 2006
Better designs are needed to realize the goal of lower-cost gas.
A gas procurement incentive mechanism that provides strong incentives for a broad range of procurement-related costs and revenues, using a benchmark that is both exogenous and adaptive to external circumstances, can benefit consumers.
Here’s what’s driving the renaissance.
Nine companies, consortia, or joint ventures are planning approximately 12 new nuclear power plants in the United States. How do the business challenges they face differ from the challenges faced by companies using other fuel sources?
Could local generators be used either to regulate voltage or control the power factor on distribution systems in New York?
Reactive power is becoming a hot issue in many regions of the country. Regulators and grid operators are grappling with ways to account fairly for reactive power supplies, and to encourage such resources to come online where they are needed. These analyses, however, are largely ignoring a vast fleet of infrastructure already installed on the network. West Point military academy, for example, has four small synchronous generators that are used for combined heat and power or emergency power applications. If these generators also were used as synchronous condensers, they might supply additional revenue to pay for the distributed energy investment.
(February 2006) Mirant announced that Robert M. Edgell would be appointed executive vice president and U.S. region head. The Southern California Edison board of directors elected James T. Reilly vice president of nuclear engineering and technical services for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. KeySpan Corp.’s board of directors appointed Stephen W. McKessy lead director. Richard C. (Dick) Kelly was elected chairman of Xcel Energy Inc.’s board of directors. And others...
Jacob Williams, VP Generation Development, Peabody Energy: While transmission built to “compete” with generation capacity is an interesting notion, it generally misses the real value of transmission. In today’s high energy-price world, delivering “affordable” energy to consumers is very important. I believe we need higher standards in the electricity market similar to transportation, where we value reliability and affordability (time).
Will the deal with FPL serve the best interests of ratepayers?
Even as many hope that repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA) will lead to more efficient and rational corporate structures, they also fear that repeal could foster irrational exuberance, with mergers that fail spectacularly. Maybe that explains why every new utility merger announcement is being met with a much higher level of scrutiny than in past decades.
Measures of generator unit performance are uncertain.
The news is full of stories about Calpine and the difficulty merchant generation players face from the uncertainty and volatility of power markets. Now is a good time to review key measures of performance and profitability under uncertain conditions.
How the World Bank Group removes generation risks in emerging markets.
Infrastructure investors have had their share of pain over the past few years, particularly in developing countries. Aside from worries about the safety and stability of the investment itself, investors also face a more expensive cost of capital. Political risk insurance cannot remove the uncertainties associated with infrastructure investments, but the combination of sound deal structure and clear and reasonable expectations by all parties can mitigate some of these risks.
With increasing unit costs, the financial prospects and credit outlook for many utilities will depend on their success in passing along such costs to consumers.
The utility sector still has excellent access to the capital and credit markets. Yet, it is never safe to assume utilities will continue to enjoy the same low costs of capital. This is particularly true for companies facing compressed margins, regulatory deferrals or disallowances, and rising debt leverage.