Pipeline Restructuring: Slicing a Shrinking Pie


Earlier this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opened a discussion of issues facing the natural gas industry. Its aim? To set "regulatory goals and priorities" for the era following from Order 636, issued in 1992. %n1%n

To gather input, the FERC scheduled a two-day public conference. It asked for comments on a myriad of topics, ranging from cost-of-service rates to hourly gas pricing and services.

Retail Gas Reform: Learning from the Georgia Model

New legislation would tackle the most difficult problem (em low load factors for small-volume customers.

We commend the Natural Gas Competition and Deregulation Act, SB 215, passed by the Georgia General Assembly in March. (Governor Zell Miller was expected to sign the bill in April.) The Georgia legislation envisions a new framework for regulating the retail gas market.

Do Lifeline Programs Promote Universal Telephone Service for the Pool?

Hardly at all. In fact, they do little more than reapportion income (em a task that lies outside the FCC's mandate.

The Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service recently proposed to expand subsidy programs for Lifeline telephone service. Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Joint Board seeks to add more low-income households to the telephone network.

Will such a strategy work? Our recent findings suggest not. They indicate that simple continuance of such programs, much less expansion, is a highly questionable proposition.

Load Aggregation: The Wolf at the Door?

Load Aggregation:

The Wolf at the Door?

Of course, there's nothing to stop a utility from aggregating its own customers.

WHAT, EXACTLY, IS LOAD "AGGREGATION?" Is it a threat, an opportunity, or merely a sales tactic?

Actions taken in California, as well as in pilot programs across the country, place customer aggregation on the leading edge of efforts to pull native load from electric utilities.

Ironically, present-day utilities already "aggregate" their customers (em albeit into a single group.

Recovering Local Distribution Costs

In electric power, telecommunications, water, and natural gas, the costs of local distribution make up a significant share of the cost of providing services. For any network or system, the cost of distribution facilities is largely or entirely independent on usage; i.e., such costs are largely invariant to the number of phone calls, kilowatts, British thermal units (BTUs), or gallons that customers use.

Learning from California's QF Auction

California's 1993 qualifying facility (QF) auction dramatically illustrates problems that can be encountered in structuring auctions for electric utility solicitations of supply-side resources from qualifying cogeneration and small power production facilities.

In the 1993 California QF auction, three California utilities were to select QFs that would be awarded long-term purchased-power contr