For The 21st Century
So it begins again. After several financially tumultuous years, executives at many of the nation's top utilities can once again look to the horizon and ask the growth question worthy of a Caesar: "What worlds to conquer?"
Utility executives are emboldened by bulging free cash flows, improved credit quality, lower operations and maintenance costs, favorable regulatory treatment, growing service territories, and increasing demand for power.
California Public Utilities Commission
The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) named Steve Larson executive director. Larson most recently was executive director of the California Energy Commission and chief deputy director of the department of finance.
PG&E Corp. elected Leslie H. Everett senior vice president and assistant to the chairman. PG&E Corp. also elected Russell M. Jackson senior vice president, human resources.
Commission policies need to recognize customer obligations and state commission decisions.
Even the best of intentions can create unintended consequences. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has acted aggressively and appropriately during the past few years to stimulate competitive wholesale electricity markets.
CPUC questioned historic oversight authority.
To guarantee the continued growth of liquefied natural gas (LNG) importation and use in the United States, the energy industry needs to pay close attention to govern the regulation, siting, and operation of LNG import terminals-issues traditionally overseen by the federal government.
Despite development challenges, LNG capacity is destined to play a bigger role in the U.S. energy mix.
When MidAmerican Energy announced its plans to build a pipeline to bring stranded Alaskan natural gas into the lower-48 states, the U.S. energy industry stood up and took notice. If successful, the project will bring the largest infusion of gas that this country has seen in many years-and not a moment too soon.
California anticipates changes in energy policy under its new governor.
The recall of California Gov. Gray Davis in November 2003 almost immediately led to speculation concerning possible changes in California's energy policy. Since his election, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has assembled an Energy Working Group, co-chaired by Professor James L.
As a former independent power producer, George Lagassa is sympathetic to the woes of the merchant power industry. Until just a few years ago, he held the license to a micro-hydro qualifying facility (QF) in New Hampshire, so he understands what it takes to compete in a regulated-franchise industry. Yet, as the principal of Mainstream Appraisals in North Hampton, N.H., Lagassa is also a dedicated pragmatist. He sees the industry's consolidation trend as a sort of correction in the U.S. power market.
Feds seek plug-and-play for distributed generation, but utilities want the power to stay local.
Pity the poor Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). With its market crusade out of favor, and transmission reform suddenly suspect after the Aug. 14 blackout, it could use a new agenda.
Business & Money
Wall Street bankers say utilities are not effectively telling their story.
Proper authority and market monitoring and mitigation could make the system work.
In the last few years we have watched appalled as the western U.S. electricity markets collapsed, taking with them the solvency and viability of several very large participants, including the California Power Exchange (PX).