Credit Rating Firms Savor Restructuring, Search for a New Formula

Each assumes a vertical breakup, but watch out for securitization.

It can prove difficult to detect any overt difference of opinion among financial credit rating agencies. That appears to be the case in today's electric utility industry, where Moody's, Duff & Phelps, and Standard & Poor's each predicts that a breakup of the vertically integrated utility is now virtually inevitable. The result, they say, will leave us with an industry made up of disaggregated high-risk power generators, and lower-risk companies engaged in transmission, distribution, and other related services.

Off Peak

Options, that is, as they pass the nationwide median in long-term pay incentives (em more than their counterparts at transportation or industrial firms (em but still less than execs at automotive and consumer companies.

Among CEOs (chief executive officers) at consumer products companies, industrial concerns, and transportation firms, top executives at energy companies can now boast of long-term pay incentives accounting for some 44 percent of their overall annual pay packages.

LDC Sales Customers Win Allocation Dispute

After reviewing an application by National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp., a local distribution company (LDC), to increase its purchased-gas cost rate, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has ordered the LDC to credit its sales customers with revenues collected from the transportation class as penalties for exceeding the current 10-percent limit on delivery imbalances. The PUC explained that costs for storage capacity due to overdeliveries by transportation users should be paid for by the class of customers responsible for such costs.

Gas Transport Available for Low-income Customers

A settlement agreement approved by the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) for National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. "would attempt to institute" a gas transportation program on behalf of low-income residential gas users.

The agreement also allows the utility to increase its rates by 2.2 percent in equal increments over a two-year period and provides for an equal sharing between the company and its ratepayers of earnings in excess of a 12-percent return on common equity.

Competition at the Meter: Lessons From the U.K.


at the Meter: Lessons

From the U.K.Metering lies at the heart of electric competition, but may work best as a "natural" monopoly controlled by the distribution utility.Metering represents one of the more complex issues in retail electric competition (em one that suffers from major misperceptions.

Four Olive Branches

Where others see conflict, a Pennsylvania commissioner finds a peace offering,

not a grab for power.

The jurisdictional issues posed by Order 888 continue to breed tension between federal and state officials. Unfortunately, most of this tension too often elevates form over substance. This jurisdictional tension shifts the focus of decisionmaking from securing the benefits of competition to preserving regulatory turf.

Court Considers Inflation Adjustments, Advertising Costs

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has asked the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) to explain 1) why it disallowed a substantial portion of advertising costs in setting rates for National Fuel Gas Corp., a local distribution company (LDC); and 2) why it had rejected the LDC's request for a separate inflation adjustment of 2.58 percent for 17 cost elements.

The court found the PUC's rationale (em that the LDC's advertising was "in essence targeted to seek and retain load" (em insufficient, since recovery of costs associated with similar advertisements had been allowed in

Electric Reform in Great Britain: An imperfect Model.

First came the Pool, with its faults and virtues.

Now comes a wave of troubling takeovers.

What happens when retail supply opens up?

Much of the pressure to reform the electricity supply industry in the United States assumes that the United Kingdom's electricity experiment offers a proven model.