Commission Watch

What everybody missed in setting up the regional grids.

Commission Watch

What everybody missed in setting up the regional grids.

While the electric utility industry has largely agreed on what elements to include in a standard market design (SMD) to govern wholesale power trading in a given region, recent experience shows that the regulators from time to time have overlooked a number of things.


Gas pipelines compete against electric transmission lines. And the pipes are winning.


The Grid Is Dead




How 165 lawyers were mostly on the wrong side in the biggest electric merger to date.

With Warren Buffet buying up MidAmerican Energy as his own personal utility, and Bill Gates taking a stake in Avista, the standard electric merger starts to look tame.

For that and other reasons, I believe it's all but certain that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will soon OK the electric industry's biggest-ever merger, combining American Electric Power Co. with Central and South West Corp.


AN EDITOR'S JOB IS A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS. Reveal the truth, unmask what's fake. Simplify, but entertain. Attract attention, but don't get noticed.

Sometimes, however, you've got to stick your neck out. So that's what I did a few weeks ago when I wrote how Commissioner Curt Hébert had become a "loose cannon" at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by sometimes refusing to go along with the full agenda. I posed a question: Was Hébert the Commission's nemesis?

Well, this time I did get noticed (em by none other than the commissioner himself.


LAST YEAR, RESOURCE DATA INTERNATIONAL PREDICTED THAT merchant plant activity was poised for explosive growth as deregulation created opportunities for a new breed of highly efficient generators. (See "Merchant Plant Activity Set to Explode," April 15, 1997, p. 14.) This prediction has proved true, with nearly 30,000 megawatts of publicly announced merchant plants under development.

More than 50 percent of this development is concentrated in New England, a particularly attractive market for merchant plant development.


AMERICANS ARE fascinated with lists. There are lists of just about anything you can name, from the Fortune 500 to baseball batting averages. There's even a book of lists. We especially like to rank "top tens," like the 10 best cities to live in or the 10 worst school districts in America. Television has popularized these lists.

Texas Judge Rips Telecom Act Finds Prejudice Against Baby Bells

ON THE LAST DAY OF 1997, A U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN Texas struck down sections of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that prevent former Bell System operating companies (BOCs) from entering certain lines of business, including interstate (and interLATA) long-distance. Some see the case as a clear victory for the BOCs. Others say it disrupts the delicate compromise forged by Congress among many diverse interests. In truth, the court's decision prompts a single question: Can Congress single out the BOCs for special treatment?

Rate of Return on Common Equity: Annual Survey of Electric Rate Case

Our 13th annual electric rate-case survey covers electric rate orders issued between

April 1, 1994, and March 31, 1995.

The survey tabulates rates of return on common equity (ROE) approved by state public utility commissions (PUCs) in major electric rate orders, but also includes some cases in which rate of return was not directly at issue, or where a rate adjustment resulted from a settlement agreement.