TODAY THE ELECTRIC UTILITY INDUSTRY HURTLES TOWARD massive restructuring. This fervor is not surprising as it appears society has become convinced that market forces can work better than a centrally planned, regulated environment. This conviction draws strength from deregulation in other industries, such as the airlines, natural gas production and telecommunications.
But what of commissioners' aides and advisers? The people behind the scenes, who, in some cases, propose decisions for regulators to act on. What wisdom can commission aides share with the industry?
Further, are these posts proving grounds? Can we expect to see aides filling commission seats someday? Elizabeth A. Moler, deputy energy secretary, started as a Senate Energy Committee aide. James J. Hoecker, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman, was once a FERC adviser.
Public Utilities Fortnightly spoke with five aides, whose average age is 37.
ATER HEATER STANDARDS. Thank you for your recent "Frontlines" editorial regarding the debate on the options for basing new water heater efficiency standards ("Water Heater War," March 15, 1998, p. 6). Your article accurately captures the rhetoric which can result when standards setting actions meant to protect the public, such as the Department of Energy appliance standards, are used to promote political agendas and gain competitive advantage.
I wanted to provide some clarification regarding Virginia Power's comments on the water heater efficiency standard issue.
SCOTT SKLAR, WHO SHOWERS WITH SOLAR-HEATED water, who drinks his skim milk from his solar-powered refrigerator, who commutes via solar-powered car, who tells time by a solar-powered watch, who wears a sun-faced ring and sun-spotted tie, sweeps into a French restaurant on North Capitol Street in Washington, D.C.
Sklar, who has lived the Solar Energy Industries Association for more than a decade, is bald up top, but his hair sprouts out around that spot in grey-brown brillo. Glasses hug his eyes. His beard threatens to strangle him and his mustache pitches in.
SOME PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW WHAT "GREEN POWER" means (em and, by extension, "environmentally friendly." Does that mean low emissions, including nuclear energy? Is renewable energy automatically green? Should the simple fact of compliance with all standards imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency afford the right to advertise power generation as green?
Consumers, agencies and state and federal officials want truth in advertising. Proponents of alternative generation claim consumers are willing to pay more for cleaner, greener energy.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has ended the summer with a series of rulings to guide the state's electric utilities as they devise individual restructuring plans. Overall, the rules seek to temper the effect of competition on certain consumer safeguards and social benefit programs.
Public Purpose Programs. Under new PUC guidelines, electric distribution companies must submit comprehensive, multi-year plans for universal service and energy conservation.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has taken new steps in its ongoing effort to restructure the state's electric industry, proposing regulations to govern customer choice of energy suppliers and securitization of stranded costs.
The PUC's new actions on retail choice and stranded costs were designed to comply with state legislation passed last December, known as the Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act. See, 66 Pa.C.S. secs. 2801 et seq.
In fact, the PUC began last January to implement the new state legislation.
The Conservation Law Foundation of Boston and AES Corp. have teamed up to bid on the 18 New England Electric System power plants recently put up for sale under the NEES divestiture plan that is part of its restructuring settlement.
The unusual alliance puts the conservation group with a former industry adversary. If the alliance succeeds in its bid, it likely would close up to five of the most polluting plants to reduce acid rain and smog. Also, it would protect about 30,000 acres of land from development.
A controversial electric restructuring settlement proposed by Consolidated Edison Company of New York to the New York Public Service Commission, which includes a 25-percent rate cut for some industrial customers, was attacked as hostile to small customers.
ConEd filed the plan in response to the PSC's efforts to develop a new framework for the state's electric industry in its "Competitive Opportunities" proceeding (Case 97018/96EO897). ConEd's proposed five-year plan would run through March 31, 2002 and cut rates by $655 million.
Moody's Investors Service has concluded that a properly structured securitization backed by the future cash flow from a utility's stranded investments can achieve a credit rating higher than the rating of the senior debt of the utility.
Moody's said this ability bodes well for the increasing number of investor-owned utilities expected to issue up to $75 billion of such securities by 2000 to recover uneconomic investments.