Utah Public Service Commission
Hedging Under Scrutiny
Planning ahead in a low-cost gas market.
IIt’s ironic that in today’s market, as the cost of hedging against commodity price increases has declined, support for utility hedging programs has sunk to a historic low. The ideal time to hedge is when prices are low and markets are relatively calm, because that’s when hedging costs and risks are the lowest. Conversely, waiting until prices rise and markets become volatile will expose customers to higher costs. Convincing regulators to approve hedging programs now will require a collaborative approach to educating and enlisting support from stakeholders.
The Utah Test
Defining a test period to overcome controversies and inaccuracies.
Test-period and test-year selection continue to generate controversy in rate cases. Examples from Utah provide insight on the difficulties of forecasting and with judging test periods.
Ring Fencing In Utah
Regulatory structures protect ratepayers in geography-spanning utility mergers.
Electric utility executives generally view corporate restructuring as a potential source of economic value and a potential partial solution to financial problems that reflect changing business risks. On the other hand, regulatory commissioners attempt to insulate and regulate the utility component of the restructured energy business and to protect the public interest, including reliability of service at reasonable costs.
PJM/Midwest Market: Two Rival Groups Battle Over Grid Pricing
Should transmission owners get paid extra for distance and voltage?
Electric Retail Choice. The Arkansas Public Service Commission has issued its final report on electric restructuring, citing a "broad" consensus favoring competition. It predicts immediate benefits for industrial customers, but warns that residential users likely will not see any quick rate cut. The PSC saw competition as consistent with action in neighboring states:
• Oklahoma. State law mandates retail choice by July 1, 2002.
• Mississippi. PSC plan would phase-in competition from 2001 to 2004.
Power Pools & Reliability
SUMMER IN WISCONSIN. Responding to concerns about the electric shortages of the summer of 1997 and fears that they could happen again, Wisconsin PSC Commissioner Joseph P. Mettner has indicated that the state's energy supply outlook for the summer of 1998 appears much better in eastern Wisconsin than it did one year ago.
Mettner noted that Wisconsin's electric supply system is operating with expected reserve margins of 19.2 percent. But he cautioned that electric power flows do not respect borders.
TELCO UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND. Reversing an appeals court, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Kansas Corporation Commission that had required wireless telecommunications carriers to contribute to the state's universal service fund. It also affirmed a KCC ruling setting the initial amount of the fund in a roundabout way based on equalizing inter- and intrastate long-distance rates.
The KCC order (issued Dec. 27, 1996) had slashed intrastate toll rates by $111 million over three years. It then cut access charges by an equal amount to offset the loss to toll carriers.
Wooing Wall Street: Choosing Between a Spinoff or Targeted Stock for that New Unregulated Subsidiary.Richard H. Pettway and Judith Johnson
AT&T and U S WEST scored points with investors, but PacTel's AirTouch deal failed to move the market.ell before the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was signed, it had become abundantly clear to telephone companies that they would need to change their organizational or corporate structures to keep pace with the changing business and regulatory climate.
The question, however, was how to make that structural change pay off on Wall Street (em how to use the reorganizati
Restructuring Case to Define "Cost-Based" Rate Standard
In opening its investigation of electric utility restructuring, the Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) has begun by directing PacifiCorp to submit a legal analysis of the "cost-based standard" for ratemaking, as enunciated two years ago in a state supreme court opinion.
In 1994, the court had overturned an incentive regulation plan OK'd by the PSC for a local exchange telephone carrier because it ignored statutory cost-of-service principles.