Southern Company named Ronnie Labrato vice president, internal auditing. FirstEnergy’s board of directors elected Gary R. Leidich executive vice president and president of FirstEnergy Generation, and Richard R. Grigg executive vice president and president of FirstEnergy Utilities. Exelon named Ian P. McLean to lead its finance and markets organization. And others...
Fortnightly Magazine - April 2008
Taming the Wind is a pleasure to read. The article captures just about perfectly the value of forecasting in cost-effectively and reliably integrating wind power, of balancing in large markets, of geographical spread, and more. It also looks at what the future could hold.
Accounting reforms might force regulators to abandon their live-now, pay-later practices.
When an advisory committee of the SEC voted recently to phase out special accounting treatment for various industries, it signaled the end may be near for power plant depreciation deferral mechanisms. Such mechanisms are a mainstay of regulatory accounting in many states, and their discontinuation could send plant owners and regulators back to the drawing board to find a new, GAAP-compliant way to recognize asset depreciation in financial reports.
Volatile markets are causing delays, but most deals are moving forward.
Although problems in the power business grabbed the headlines early this decade, the industry now seems fundamentally strong. In contrast to their ratings of banks, rating agencies appear to have recently upgraded more of the electric sector than they have downgraded. It remains a strong investment grade, usually BB or BBB. For an index of 68 electric utilities, the debt-to-equity ratio averaged only 55:45 and return on equity exceeded over 13 percent through January.
New gas projects help globalize the U.S. market.
Underground storage allows gas users and traders to hedge against price volatility. Building more capacity will help North America fully integrate into global gas markets.
Enforcement trends call for a proactive approach to complying with market rules.
Federal regulators have penalized wholesale energy market participants with fines ranging from $300 thousand to $300 million over the past two years. The magnitude of the penalties, along with uncertainty over how to effectively mitigate the risk of any civil action by regulators, has raised concern about how companies are approaching their regulatory obligations.
Special report on public support for smart metering and demand response.
Smart metering is entering the public consciousness. But gaining support from consumers is tricky business, as evidenced by the recent backlash in California. Customers will accept dynamic pricing and demand-response capabilities only if regulators and utilities take a soft-sell approach.
California learns painful lessons from its proposal to mandate demand response.
When the California Energy Commission (CEC) proposed to include programmable communicating thermostats in the state’s new building codes, it expected some push-back from home builders. It didn’t expect what it got: a major public outcry.
Why many state regulators still have qualms about endorsing smart meters.
A year ago, in its formal investigation of state policy on smart meters, the Florida Public Service Commission conceded that while three of the state’s five major investor-owned electric utilities offered an optional time-of-use rate to residential customers, participation in fact remained “typically quite small,” averaging only about 1 percent.
Two utilities win customer support for dynamic pricing and demand response.
If the recent backlash against California’s proposed new building codes proves anything, it’s that ratepayers won’t buy into the smart-metering concept by themselves. The industry will have to sell it. How then should electric utilities, municipals and cooperatives go about introducing smart grid technologies? Two major utilities—Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) and Southern California Edison—are in the early stages of doing just that