ELECTRIC POWER SYSTEMS ARE HEAVILY DEPENDENT ON computers and communications. The electric power industry is reputed to be the third largest user of computers and communications, behind government and the banking industry. When regulators and legislators make decisions regarding the electric power industry, their decisions often carry implications for the industry's computer systems. However, it is rare for these implications to attract significant consideration or influence in the deliberative process.
GAS PIPELINES. Noting a move toward shorter-term contracts since Order 636, the FERC on July 29 issued an "integrated package" of reform proposals for the natural gas pipeline industry: (1) specific measures in a notice of proposed rulemaking on short-term transportation (transactions shorter than one year); plus (2) an open-ended request for comments in a broader notice of inquiry. RM98-10-000, 84 FERC ¶61,985 [NOPR]; RM98- 12-000, 84FERC ¶61,087 NOI].
STRANDED COST RECOVERY. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission allowed Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. to recover $2.9 billion of a requested $4.5 billion in stranded costs, cutting a higher $4-billion allowance proposed earlier by an administrative law judge. The utility petitioned for reconsideration on June 26, after CEO William F. Hecht had called the decision "unacceptable," and noting that the PUC's written order, received June 15, appeared "even more injurious" to the company that the PUC's June 4 bench order.
IF AN INDEPENDENT SYSTEM OPERATOR OVERSEES THE TRANS-
mission grid, how much independence is too much? Should ISOs cede control over dispatch to scheduling coordinators, or market functions to a power exchange? Addressing some of these questions, a new report released in April by The Progress & Freedom Foundation criticizes a restructured electric industry built on ISOs with restricted authority.
UHCA REPEAL NOW. In her article, "Why PUHCA Repeal Is Still on Hold," published Feb. 15, 1998, Beverly Jones suggests the reason legislation to repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 hasn't passed Congress is because there hasn't yet been an "open dialogue" among all interests to deal with a wide range of electricity restructuring issues, including PUHCA.
Open dialogue is always important, and a review of the past two years shows that not only has such a dialogue taken place, but the case for immediate repeal of PUHCA, on a standalone basis, is stronger than ever.
NITROGEN-OXIDE EMISSION LIMITS. Denying an appeal by electric utilities and industry groups against rules proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for emission limits for nitrogen oxides at certain electric utility boilers, a federal appeals court has ruled that EPA properly interpreted the Clean Air Act. The act allows EPA to set NOx limits for certain electric utility boilers if it could show that more effective technology for low-NOx burners was available, the court said.
EARLIER IN THIS DECADE, FERC CHAIRMAN MARTIN ALLDAY delivered his famous quote: "Everybody is somebody's native load customer."
Today, that truism has fallen under attack. It could go out the window if power marketers get their wish. One group of marketers has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to open a new rulemaking on electric system reliability. This group proposes to end the notion of transmission responding to load.
IN A RECENT SPEECH TO A SOPHISTICATED WASHINGTON AUDIence of electric industry players, FERC Commissioner William Massey raised a difficult question: "Can ISOs become self-policing institutions, thereby allowing FERC to embrace light-handed regulation of transmission?"
In answering his own question, Massey confirmed a quasi-judicial role for independent system operators (em but only if they are "equipped with proper operational rules, including market monitoring plans that report market power abuses and contemplate enforcement mechanisms to assure compliance." %n1%n
Despite such op
THE MIDWEST INDEPENDENT SYSTEM OPERATOR PROposal raises the lingering question of whether the ISO model represents a "stepping stone" or a final form of electric industry transmission management. Many players are split on which model would best serve an open electric market: an ISO, or financial separation of the transmission and distribution system from electric generation.
Within the generalized ISO framework, individual members would retain ownership and operate and maintain transmission assets.
UTILITY HOUSE CALLS. Michigan Gov. John Engler (R) signed into law a bill making it a felony to impersonate a utility employee to enter private property for criminal purposes. The new law calls for those convicted to be imprisoned for not more than two years and to pay a maximum fine of $1,000, or both.
ELECTRIC RESTRUCTURING. Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar (R) signed into law an electric restructuring bill for the state. Edgar noted that concerns over the bill were addressed by the state's two largest utilities, Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Power Co.