Energy Information Administration

Stranded Utilities: How Demographics, Not Management, Caused High Costs and Rates

And why policy on

stranded costs defies

a traditional legal or

economic analysis.

There are sound economic reasons why policymakers should allow electric utilities to recover stranded costs through a competitively neutral network access charge, or some similar fee. First, differences in the quality of utility management appear to have contributed little to differences in electricity rates among states.


If Jane Austen were writing this column, she would begin something like this: "It is a truth university acknowledged, that a natural gas distributor in possession of a good franchise must be in want of an electric utility to merge with."

That's the rule of electric/gas convergence. But as an editor, my instinct when I uncover such a "rule" tell me to look for a reason why it ain't so. That's why I got such a kick from a recent conversation with Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York State Assembly.

Gas-fired Generation: Can Renewable Energy Reduce Fuel Risk?

Some in Congress would link customer choice with a portfolio standard. How would that play in a wholesale power market where gas turbines rule the roost?

By Michael C. Brower and Brian Parsons


get built in a deregulated electric industry? If recent history offers any guide, utilities and independent power companies will succumb to the traditional wisdom and invest in gas-fired combustion turbines and combined-cycle plants. Sound reasons may exist for doing so. The plants are less expensive than conventional steam plants. They put less capital at risk.

EIA Predicts Further Nuclear Growth

According to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), nuclear power continued as an important source of electricity in 1995, accounting for 22 percent of total worldwide electric generation. The report, "Nuclear Power Generation and Fuel Cycle Report 1996," projects continued worldwide growth for nuclear plants in the near term, but uncertain long-term prospects.

Worldwide, nuclear plants generated

2,225 terawatt-hours in 1995, a four percent increase from 1994 (one terawatt equals 1000 gigawatts, or one million megawatts).

Mitigating Transition Costs: The Utility's Role

How a sample electric company could reduce risk of loss by upgrading performance to industry benchmarks. Competition in electric generation will expose utility costs that exceed those of alternative suppliers. Roughly speaking, these above-market ("transition") costs should track the difference between the new market price and the embedded cost set by traditional cost-of-service regulation.

The problem has attracted no shortage of proposals.

Generation: Big or Small?

Generation: Big orDistributed power may turn

heads, but economics points

to central plants.

By Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

By 2010, distributed power technologies will make up as much as 30 percent of new electric generation.

Phantom Taxes: The Big Paycheck

The restructuring debate in the electric industry has focused on nuclear assets at risk for "stranding" under deregulation, while another issue has largely eluded public scrutiny: accumulated deferred federal income taxes (ADFITs). ADFITs represent money that utilities have received from ratepayers to cover federal tax expenses not yet actually recognized and paid.