April 1, 2000
WHY IS ELECTRICITY COMPETITION NOT WORKING? The principal reason is the failure of Order 888 to accommodate the economic and technological constraints of wholesale power markets.
Soon after Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 1992, to give authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to compel electric utilities under its jurisdiction to wheel power for others, the FERC correctly recognized that piecemeal wheeling orders wouldn't work well without a tariff. A tariff would make the service quickly available to the user without the need for time-consuming negotiation.
ELECTRIC RETAIL PRICES. The Energy Information Administration has released a new report finding that the average retail price of electricity has declined for the third year in a row and remained stable for the first nine months of 1997. According to Electric Sales and Revenue 1996, average residential electric prices declined slightly in 1996, the first drop for that consumer class since the EIA began collecting data in 1984.
MANY PLAYERS IN THE ELECTRIC INDUSTRY HAVE COME to believe that energy-only prices will soon replace the hundred-year tradition of pricing both energy and capacity.
This idea, sometimes called "monomic" trading, offers a seductive simplicity. Even so, research indicates that it is unlikely to work well.
First, consider some terminology. Traditional electric markets contain prices for both energy and capacity. Energy prices pertain to the actual kilowatt-hours. Capacity prices pertain to the right to take energy.