But who gets a slice of the pie?
In August the Bonneville Power Administration released its proposed wholesale electric rates for the five-year period from 2002 to 2006. The controversial proposal is subject to five months of scrutiny, including eight public hearings from Sept. 30 through Oct. 14, with adoption of final rates expected early in 2000.
In this era of emerging competitive markets, relatively low-priced federal power is prized by wholesale customers in the BPA's Northwestern U.S. service territory.
The state foots the bill, while northern neighbors profit from a managed power market.
California's electric restructuring plan, launched on April 1, 1998, marks one of the most ambitious attempts in U.S. history to place the state in a social engineering role. Not only was the scale of the project daunting, with implementation cost estimates running as high as $1.2 billion, but the plan places California government in control of the most minute components of the electric system.
How has the experiment gone?
NOX EMISSIONS. Generating heavy criticism from industry, on September 24 the Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited final rules on nitrogen oxide emissions, outlining a plan to reduce NOx by 28 percent by year 2007 in some 22 states and the District of Columbia, with state implementation plans due by September 1999 and controls in place by 2003, to be carried out through a "cap and trade" program to buy and sell NOx emissions credits.
HYDROELECTRIC POWER ENGINEERS might fare all right. But office
administrators could face staff reductions of up to 50 percent.
Such are the recommendations filed March 10 by the Cost Review Management Committee assigned to recommend measures to the Bonneville Power Administration for its own internal cost review.
An agreement between PacifiCorp and Bonneville Power Administration will lead to an 8-percent rate cut for PacifiCorp.'s Utah Power irrigation customers in Southeastern Idaho. Impetus for the agreement came from two Idaho legislators, the governor's office and the congressional delegation.
The proposed agreement was filed at the Idaho Public Utilities Commission and also will go through BPA's internal review process. The agreement will result in payments totaling $47.7 million over the next four years from BPA to PacifiCorp for Utah Power's Idaho residential irrigation customers.
Subsidies? Maybe. But how about reciprocity? Should Congress let PMAs, munis and co-ops decline open access?
Until recently, most congressional debate on utility deregulation has focused on the future of investor-owned utilities and independent power producers and marketers. Lobbyists for government-owned or cooperative-owned power companies have tried to downplay their clients or to seek exemptions.
Moody's Investors Service has released a report that finds the most significant long-term implication of Order 888 for investors is for potential divestiture of transmission assets by investor-owned utilities.
The Moody's study, FERC Order 888 and Wholesale Competition: Catalyst for a New Market Model, also finds that divestiture by a vertically integrated utility may leave bondholders secured by a lien on relatively risky generating assets of often questionable market value, as opposed to the presently more diverse and balanced asset portfolio.
Last year was pivotal for nuclear power. On May 13, 1994, the board of directors of the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) voted 9-4 to terminate reactors WNP-1 and WNP-3, triggering a dismantling of the two mothballed reactors, both about 70 percent complete. For ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest, the decision offered no relief from bills for construction of the two plants (em recently estimated at about $350 million per year for the next 24 years1. In many ways, WPPSS and its troubled history is a microcosm of the U.S.
Bonneville Power Administration
BPA's central role in the Northwest has no counterpart among the other PMAs proposed for privatization. We hold approximately 45 percent of the market share, serve 85 percent of our customers' load, and provide rate benefits for 85 percent of all Northwest residential consumers.
By contrast, the other PMAs have less than 10 percent of the market in their respective regions.