On a purely intellectual level, it is difficult to justify the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA). Sixty years after passage, PUHCA has become an anachronism (em a fact well articulated in comments filed in response to the Concept Release on the modernization of the Act issued last November by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).1 More recently, the SEC's Division of Investment Management actually recommended a conditional repeal (see sidebar).
For the past several decades, utility regulation at the state level dealt with secure local markets and truly captive customers. A regulatory compact flourished that offered reasonable prices to customers, while guaranteeing the monopolist the opportunity to earn a fair rate of return on prudently incurred investments.
In the alphabet soup of regulatory acronyms, performance-based ratemaking (PBR) may help shape events well into the next century. At present, PBR is being implemented, or considered by, public utility commissions (PUCs) in over 20 states. By 2000, PBR is likely to reach most of the 50 states as well as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The pressures of a global economy have raised the stakes.
T.R. Standish's letter ("NUGs Take the Cake," May 1, 1995) in response to our article ("How State Regulators Should Handle Retail Wheeling," Feb. 15, 1995) reflects the views of those who believe that the full benefits of competition in the electric power industry do not require retail competition. Mr. Standish, in fact, believes that retail competition is bad and not inevitable. We would like to address several of his points:
Reasonable people can certainly debate the inevitability of retail competition. But unlike Mr.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has terminated an ongoing rulemaking on stranded-cost recovery by electric utilities in the state. In closing the docket, the PUC cited proposed rules recently issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as evidence of FERC jurisdiction in the matter.
(TRC) test has become the dominant method of comparing the costs and benefits of demand-side management (DSM) programs. Yet the TRC test fails to recognize the negative rate impacts from reduced kilowatt-hour consumption. DSM advocates argue that more extensive DSM programs will compensate for this flaw. If all customers have an opportunity to participate in a DSM program, they claim, customers' total bills will fall in spite of rising rates that pay for the DSM investments.
Widespread concern over nuclear plant decommissioning has triggered similar interest in the decommissioning of fossil-fired steam generating stations. This rising interest stems in part from the emergence of a competitive market in electric generation, which, among other things, threatens impairment of assets.
Fossil decommissioning issues are not nearly as contentious as those that attend nuclear plants.
Our 13th annual electric rate-case survey covers electric rate orders issued between
April 1, 1994, and March 31, 1995.
The survey tabulates rates of return on common equity (ROE) approved by state public utility commissions (PUCs) in major electric rate orders, but also includes some cases in which rate of return was not directly at issue, or where a rate adjustment resulted from a settlement agreement.
Northern States Power Co. (NSP) and Wisconsin Energy Corp. (parent company of Wisconsin Electric Power Co., WEPCO, and Wisconsin Natural Gas Co.), have announced plans to merge, a move NSP says will create the tenth-largest investor-owned utility in the United States, based on market capitalization. The new company (em Primergy Corp. (em would operate as a registered public utility holding company and parent company of NSP and WEPCO, with the gas subsidiary perhaps spun off to comply with the Holding Company Act.