Bunker Hill. Gettysburg. Pearl Harbor. Iwo Jima. The Cold War. Each of these famous conflicts resonates in our history books. Despite the end of the Cold War, we may face another battle, this time between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the states over jurisdiction.
For the partners in a utility merger, the celebration must wait. After opening the most delicate of dialogues, and then negotiating the price and closing the deal, the merger partners must yet gain the approval of regulators. The application may lie sealed in its FedEx pouch, safely on its way to Washington.
Differences of opinion make for good horse races and bad jokes about economists, and those who are studying the recent wave of electric utility merger announcements have not let us down. Some of these economists optimistically believe that the mergers act as forces for competition, since they will combine corporate assets and staffs to bolster operating efficiency and market acumen at the merged companies. Other economists, who see transmission as the root of monopoly power, are more pessimistic.
The competitive transformations of the natural gas and telecommunications industries are over a decade in the making. By contrast, competition in the electricity industry is still emerging. Special interests have defeated many proposed competitive reforms. For example, in 1988 the FERC failed in its attempt to adopt regulations to encourage competitive bidding and independent power producers (IPPs).1 Similarly, decades of forceful industry opposition delayed open access in bulk-power markets.
The restructuring of electric utilities is fundamentally a matter of national policy (em not a regulatory issue. Regulators are ill-suited to make national policy because they are conditioned to act within the limits of authority specifically granted by legislation, rather than to seek a fresh statutory mandate in response to changed conditions. Policymakers must assess political, social, economic, technological, regional, and national factors to measure the need for reform.
In its recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) on wholesale competition and open-access transmission,1 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has outlined a plan to revolutionize the electricity industry.
The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) has decided not to adopt federal standards for natural gas integrated resource planning (IRP) and demand-side management (DSM) contained in section 115 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct), concluding that current information did not support establishing formal standards in those areas. The PSC explained that the expected costs of future commission involvement in the matter outweigh the benefits that might reasonably be expected at this time. Re Section 115, Energy Policy Act of 1992, Order No. 5861, Docket No. 94.9.42, Aug.
For almost a decade now, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has pursued the goal of promoting competition in bulk-power markets, focusing on access to transmission as its primary tool to achieve that end. This trend first emerged in the 1987 PacifiCorp merger case. It gained momentum with the strong message sent by the Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct).
Will the Crown accept the olive branch offered by its colony, or will conflict ensue? That was the question posed on July 13 by Thomas Page, CEO of San Diego Gas and Electric Co., at the "Western States Workshop on California Restructuring," the first industrywide meeting to discuss the policy proposals issued six weeks before by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).The Crown sent its emissaries.