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.).
Developers launch 70,000 MW of new capacity in Texas, PJM and New York state, but how much will get built?
It's so hot down here, it isn't funny," laughed Ken Donohoo, senior transmission systems engineer at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas independent system operator. But no, he wasn't talking about last summer's scorching temperatures.
Instead, Donohoo was referring to some 30,000-plus megawatts of generation capacity proposed to be built in ERCOT between 2001 and 2003.
Applications filed to date in New England and California.
New England and California are hotbeds of merchant plant activity, as shown by a list of proposed projects submitted for certification with the appropriate state agencies as of early November. In New England alone, some 63 projects totaling generation of more than 31,000 megawatts (and growing) were proposed. It is generally understood, however, that of the 31,000 MW of generating capacity represented by those projects, only 7,000 to 8,000 MW will be built.
Projects sprout in the United States and overseas, pushing the limits of grid capacity, turbine manufacturers and available sites.
Merchant power plants are emerging en masse to address the growing electricity needs of the United States and other countries, thanks to deregulation and fearless developers. While some plants are built to replace older, less-efficient utility-owned units, others would serve demand growth. Still more are planned as niche-oriented peakers - ready to supply the grid when marginal prices rise high enough. Ancillary services might offer another niche.
A broad coalition of Minnesota electric cooperatives, municipal utilities, consumer advocates, and environmentalists has joined the debate over the restructuring of the state's electric industry.
I appreciated Michael Gerrard's August piece, "Dodging the NIMBY Bullet: A Solution to Waste Facility Siting" (Perspective, p. 18). Waste facility siting is a subject that I consider a significant problem facing every U.S. citizen. Clearly, source reduction and recycling of waste should be and often is given priority over the construction of new disposal capacity.
Efforts to site new facilities for the disposal of hazardous waste (HW) and radioactive waste have met with utter paralysis. HW disposal companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to site new landfills and incinerators for this waste, but most of this money has gone down the drain. Since the enactment of the chief federal law on HW, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA), only one new HW landfill has opened on a new site in the United States (in prophetically named Last Chance, CO).
The bad news for qualifying facilities (QFs) continues. A high-profile project in the District of Columbia appears dead, but developers won a small victory when a federal court refused to stop a suit by the developers against municipal officials for damages connected with the regulatory barriers erected by the city at the behest of concerned citizens. More damaging was the recent decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court requiring reluctant regulators to review the ceiling price set for QF purchases in a recent bid conducted by Boston Edison Co.