A former state regulator notes serious problems in Northeast power markets, and offers remedies.
Congressmen, industry experts, and environmentalists square off over efforts to streamline relicensing.
April 1, 2000
Distributed Generation. In December and January the Illinois commission took comments from utilities, marketers, manufacturers, and trade and advocacy groups on how to develop policy on distributed generation.
* Rulemaking Strategy. Enron has urged the state to proceed in a fashion similar to the California PUC's
two-track investigation. It asked for two separate rulemakings on (1) interconnection standards for DG installations of 50 megawatts or less, and (2) rate design and operational issues.
* Unit Size Limits.
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.
Agency moves ahead despite ruling that Clean Air Act is unconstitutional.
By granting petitions filed by four Northeastern states seeking to reduce ozone pollution in their geographic areas through reductions in nitrogen oxide emission (NOx) from out-of-state sources, along with other initiatives, the Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 17 began to clean the regulatory air that has grown murky as of late.
T+D Investment Risk. The Maine PUC appeared to take a pro-consumer stance in setting principles it will use to set a revenue requirement for transmission and distribution (T&D) services provided by Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. after the company becomes a wires-only utility on March 1. The PUC downplayed the risk of wires operations, adopting a return on equity of 11 percent and disallowing about $3.5 million of some $71 million in claimed T&D costs.
Gas Retail Rate Design. In a move toward equalizing rates of return between customer classes, the Oregon PUC authorized Northwest Natural Gas Co. to increase base rates by nearly $246,000, at the same time boosting residential rates by 1.3 percent but lowering rates for large commercial and industrial users. It set return on equity at 10.25 percent, finding the rate "consistent with the downward trend of ROEs authorized by other regulatory commissions." Order No. 99-697, Nov. 12, 1999 (Ore.P.U.C.).
Mergers & Acquisitions
Joint Ventures. The Federal Trade Commission, in consultation with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, issued draft antitrust guidelines for "collaborations among competitors" that will apply to a wide range of joint ventures and strategic alliances other than actual mergers.
Such collaborations would include R&D efforts, information sharing and joint efforts in marketing, distribution, sales or purchasing, plus various types of trade association activities. File No. 971201, Oct. 1, 1999 (F.T.C.), published at 64 Fed. Reg.
Electric Standard Offers. Connecticut OK'd a regulated standard offer distribution rate of 10.84 cents per kilowatt-hour for United Illuminating Co. The rate included subcomponent rates:
Gen. Shopping Credit 4.52 cents
T&D Regulated Service 3.89 cents
Systems Benefit Charge 0.17 cents
Compet. Transition Charge 1.91 cents
Conservation Funding 0.3 cents
Renewable Energy Funding 0.05 cents
The T&D charge was calculated without backing out unbundled retail transmission subject to FERC jurisdiction. Docket No. 99-03-35, Oct.