Bunker Hill. Gettysburg. Pearl Harbor. Iwo Jima. The Cold War. Each of these famous conflicts resonates in our history books. Despite the end of the Cold War, we may face another battle, this time between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the states over jurisdiction.
Fortnightly Magazine - January 1 1996
Speaking last fall in New York City, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI), the ranking Democratic leader of the House Commerce Committee, questioned the need for federal legislation on electric utility restructuring, and even warned the audience that passage of any federal legislation in the 105th Congress to require electric competition was far from guaranteed.
The occasion for the talk was a conference entitled, "Deregulation (em The Changing Electric Utility Industry (em Opportunities and Risks," sponsored by the financial house of Bear, Stearns & Co.
By its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on wholesale electric competition, commonly called the "Mega-NOPR" (or "Giga-NOPR"), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has announced big plans for electric transmission.
The FERC would require "functional" unbundling of transmission from generation. The Mega-NOPR requires utilities that own transmission to file tariffs for point-to-point and network transmission services, based on guidelines in pro forma tariffs published by the FERC.
In three similar orders, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given itself regulatory authority over linked and integrated intrastate pipelines in certain situations.
The first order finds the Kansas Pipeline (KP) system a single interstate pipeline system subject to the FERC's Natural Gas Act (NGA) jurisdiction, requiring KP to file an application for certificate authorization (Docket No. RP95-212-000).
As the generation side of the electric industry becomes increasingly deregulated and transmission migrates toward common carrier status, an easily administered and fairly applied pricing system must be developed. The concepts of "postage stamp" tariffs and "contract paths" lose all logical viability. They possess no totally encompassing tie between the provider of the service and the revenues for that service.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on "Standards of Communication Among Natural Gas Pipeline Companies and their Customers" (Docket No. RM96-1-000). At the same time, Commissioner James J. Hoecker urged the natural gas industry to continue its voluntary efforts to develop standards for electronic bulletin boards (EBBs). Commissioner Vicky A. Bailey agreed that the gas industry should take the lead, but warned that it has only a limited window of opportunity before the FERC takes over. Commissioner Donald F. Santa, Jr.
In thinking about transmission pricing for a competitive electric industry, we should remember that the fundamental objective of competition is to increase economic efficiency. Improved economic efficiency, after all, leads to better use of resources, lower costs, and long-term benefits for consumers.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has settled its lawsuit with the State of Idaho, clearing the way to resume shipments of radioactive waste from Navy ships to a DOE storage site in Idaho. DOE will pay Idaho $350 million and has promised to remove the Navy's spent fuel from the Idaho storage site by 2035 or face a $60,000-a-day penalty.
On Saturday, November 11, WPL Holdings, Inc. announced its three-way merger with IES Industries Inc. and Interstate Power Co. to form Interstate Energy. The very next day, in a full-page ad that ran in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Madison Gas & Electric Co. launched its counteroffensive, featuring Boris the Pig.
"Hi (em I'm Big Boris," the ad begins. (The face of a handsome pig with a large snout stares back at the reader.) "My friends and I crave Radical Electric Deregulation.
The beleaguered Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) has a new assailant (em U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). Stearns's bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2562, the "Ratepayer Protection Act," proposes repeal of section 210 of PURPA, which requires electric utilities to purchase power at avoided costs.