News Digest

Mergers & Acquisitions

NSP + New Century. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission OK'd the merger of Northern States Power Co. (NSP) and New Century Energies Inc. (NCE), to form Xcel Energy Inc., on condition that the new company would join the Midwest Independent System Operator. FERC Docket No. EC99-101- 000, Jan. 12, 2000, 90 FERC ¶61,020.

* Rate Pancaking. The FERC found no problem with transmission rate pancaking with the MISO condition, even though NCE subsidiary Southwestern Public Service Co. (SPS) belongs to the rival Southwest Power Pool.

The Power Market: E-Commerce for All Electricity Products

Why not use the Web to buy and sell transmission rights at prices derived from bids and offers?

You make an offer, I accept. You deliver a product, I deliver money. This simple construct works well in just about any industry you can name. When a willing buyer and seller negotiate a contract, each achieves an outcome he considers best. Moreover, each is obliged to meet the needs of the other - reliably. No central authority sets the price or allocates supply. We depend on markets for reliable production and delivery of other essential goods; why not for electricity?

Germany: Taking the Lead in Electricity and Gas

Once trailing, but now the frontrunner, Germany attempts to remake its fragmented energy markets - with no new federal bureaucracy.

Here's a timely recommendation for U.S. electric power executives: Maybe it's time to brush up on those long-forgotten high school German lessons. Suddenly, the German electric power market has become the fastest changing in the world. It all happened in less than the two years passed since Germany enacted a new energy law, which became fully effective on April 28, 1998.

1999 ROE Rate Case Survey

(December 1999) A survey of utility rate decisions affecting authorized rates of return on common equity (ROE), as issued by state public utility commissions (PUCs) during the period Sept. 30, 1998 to Sept. 30, 1999, indicates a small but discernible trend toward lower returns. There is no clear evidence, however, that PUCs are rethinking their assessment of utility investment risk to reflect divestitures of generation assets or a retrenchment of utility functions toward the model of a stand-alone wires or distribution company.