Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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.
A case study shows how today's typical tariffs can force some industrial electric customers to subsidize others.
There ought to be a better way for electric utilities to set prices for ancillary services - so that customers pay rates that fairly reflect the needs they impose on the bulk power system. However, while federal officials seem to agree with this point, so far they have done little to turn the idea to action.
Mitigation depends on the market. For regulators, that means a going-forward view.
If regulators allow recovery of some stranded costs, they should at least ensure that utilities operate their generating plants in a manner consistent with the actions taken by other owners of similar resources that participate in competitive markets for bulk power.
A priori estimates of stranded costs are almost certain to be wrong. Therefore, regulators should adjust recovery to reflect actual events (em in particular market prices for electricity.
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.
AS U.S. ELECTRICITY MARKETS BECOME increasingly competitive, large industrial customers will discover many new choices. These choices include the opportunity to modify the amount and timing of electricity use in response to prices that vary from hour to hour. In addition, customers can sell certain electricity services, including operating reserves and load following, to the system operator. And industrial customers with cogeneration facilities can participate fully in bulk power markets, buying and selling energy and ancillary services in response to changes in spot prices.
But not for long (em as power producers and
customers get more creative in matching plants with loads Dynamic scheduling is a "sleeper" issue in the move toward electric competition. Industry players are debating independent system operators. They are focusing on issues of governance and the form of transmission pricing. Consequently, they are ignoring critical issues concerning ancillary services. These services are not receiving the attention they deserve.
I was amused and concerned by the allegations of marketing warfare that Mr. Krebs felt compelled to address in his December 1996 article.
How a sample electric company could reduce risk of loss by upgrading performance to industry benchmarks. Competition in electric generation will expose utility costs that exceed those of alternative suppliers. Roughly speaking, these above-market ("transition") costs should track the difference between the new market price and the embedded cost set by traditional cost-of-service regulation.
The problem has attracted no shortage of proposals.