San Diego Gas & Electric turns vendor heads with its plan to install real-time meters, but the company could face heat from regulators.
This is a landmark event," says Bill Rush, a physicist at the Gas Technology Institute, and a gas industry expert on electric utility metering systems.
Consultant blasts national effort, says standards themselves are the problem.
Concerted efforts by utilities, retail marketers and metering companies to establish uniform business practices by implementing national electronic data interchange standards, or EDI, as part of retail competition, are being undermined by the EDI standard itself, says Doug Houseman, director at Cap Gemini Hagler Bailly.
"It is a very big, nasty, complicated monster. There are a lot of people that do not know what they are doing," he says.
NO MORE METER MONOPOLY?
So they say. Many believe that utility control over electric metering exerts a chilling effect on retail choice in energy. They claim that competitive energy service providers cannot earn a high-enough margin on the commodity alone, but must offer companion services - metering, billing and value-added options.
Yet the road to competitive metering is pitted with potholes. Utilities, ESPs and private meter vendors and manufacturers can be found arguing over a raft of issues.
MIDWEST POWER PRICES. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman James Hoecker announced July 15 that as soon as the staff presents its findings, the FERC will deal with the complaints filed by Cinergy, Steel Dynamics Inc., and others asking for regulatory relief from the late June run-up in Midwest bulk power prices (as high as $7,500 per megawatt-hour), and for a price cap set at $100/MWh. Nevertheless, Hoecker advised that the FERC was in "no hurry," and that the remedies available to it were not entirely clear. Docket No. EL98-53 (Cinergy), filed June 29, 1998; Docket No.
Nuclear Plant Fines. The Nuclear Regulatory Commis-
sion has proposed fines totaling $2.1 million against Northeast Nuclear Energy Co. for many violations at the company's Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford, Conn. The fine marks the largest civil penalty ever proposed by the NRC. Northeast Utilities said it will pay the fine, which it called "a necessary and important step toward bringing to closure a very disappointing and difficult chapter in the company's history." The utility said it will not pass the cost onto ratepayers.
An interview with Ralph Masiello
and Sue Scott of ABB
The big, traditional projects in automated meter reading have really stalled, because utilities are no longer assured of a return on investment."
That warning comes from Ralph D. Masiello, vice president and general manager, ABB Power T&D Co. Inc., the leading manufacturer of electric meters in North America.
"We used to understand the economics of AMR. Just compare the cost of AMR against the cost of metering. But now the economics have changed.
Zond Development Corp. will supply MidAmerican Energy Co. with 45 MW of wind-generated power per month for 20 years. Terms of the agreement were not released, but Zond will begin supplying energy within three years of regulatory approval. The contract helps fulfill the utility's alternate energy requirements under Iowa law. Zond will generate the power from about 150 wind turbines planned for Buena Vista County. The windmills will interconnect with the MidAmerican transmission system at a nearby substation.
Peabody COALSALES Co. agreed to provide Minnesota Power as much as 2.5 million tons of low-sulphur coal each year. Coal will be supplied by Peabody affiliate Big Sky Coal Co. Big Sky's contract with the power company ends in May; the new agreement runs through 1999. Terms of the deal weren't released.
The Georgia Public Service Commission begins a series of workshops on electric industry restructuring next month. The workshops will examine national efforts, consumer ramifications and environmental and energy efficiency issues. Stranded costs also will be targeted.