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PUR Guide 2012 Fully Updated Version

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FERC

Don't Fear the FERC

Four steps to minimizing energy trading enforcement risk.
Market-manipulation violations can bring civil penalties and disgorgement losses. Energy traders can mitigate FERC enforcement risks with four straightforward (yet effective) steps.

Preventing Tomorrow's Blackout

The case for tighter coordination among transmission planners and protection engineers.
Recent outages show the importance of proper transmission system design. As the grid becomes more complex, meeting NERC reliability standards and proper assessment of power grid reliability will require closer coordination between system planners and protection engineers.

Trading on a Knife Edge

A few months back, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission directed Deutsche Bank Energy Trading LLC to show cause why it shouldn’t be assessed a civil penalty of $1.5 million and be made to return some $123,000 in allegedly unjust profits from power trading in markets run by the California ISO.

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In referring the Deutsche Bank matter to FERC for possible enforcement action, the California ISO’s department of market monitoring found that DBET traders had established a pattern of circular trading, by purchasing power exports out of CAISO at the Silver Peak intertie node, moving them across Sierra Pacific Power transmission to the Summit node (the E-Tag dotted line), and re-importing the same power back into CAISO, to be wheeled back to the starting point, in a manner “inconsistent with ISO and FERC ma
This figure depicts a hypothetical combination of supply and demand bids that could’ve created a situation of “degeneracy” at the Silver Peak intertie node, by which the market-efficient, security-constrained, least-cost dispatch solution under the California ISO market tariff could’ve indicated not a single, unique market-clearing locational marginal price (LMP), but a range of prices, falling between the lowest-priced supply bid (import bid) and the highest-priced demand bid (export bid)—any one of which
Category: 
Commission Watch
Author Bio: 

Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.

Deck: 

The Deutsche Bank case and the meaning of ‘price manipulation.’

Demand Growth and the New Normal

It’s tempting to attribute the recent slowdown in electricity demand growth entirely to the Great Recession, but consumption growth rates have been declining for at least 50 years. The new normal rate of demand growth likely will be about half of its historic value, with demand rising by less than 1 percent per year. This market plateau calls for a new utility strategy.

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Figure 1 - Electricity Sales Growth (Two-Decade Distributions)
Figure 2 - Cumulative Demand Growth (2010-2035)
Figure 3 - Arc of Price Responsiveness
Figure 4 - Impact of Codes and Standards on Electricity Consumption
Figure 5 - Efficiency Gains of ENERGY STAR Qualified Models
Figure 6 - ERCOT Loads in Texas (3/9/11 and 8/3/11)
Author Bio: 

Ahmad Faruqui is a principal at The Brattle Group, and Eric Shultz is a research analyst. This article was revised from Faruqui’s presentation at the Goldman Sachs Power & Utility Conference on Aug. 14, 2012. The authors acknowledge research assistance by Jennifer Palmer.

Deck: 

Five forces are putting the squeeze on electricity consumption.

Bill Hogan, Unbundled

A no-holds-barred interview with the electric industry’s chief architect of wholesale electric market design.

Category: 
People In Power
Author Bio: 

John A. Bewick is Fortnightly’s contributing editor and formerly was secretary for environmental affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He holds advanced degrees in nuclear science and business management.

Deck: 

A candid commentary on current topics in electric restructuring.

The Old Drawing Board

PUCs are concerned that a rapid shutdown of coal-fired plants will start a full-tilt dash to gas—similar to the one that caused bankruptcies among independent power producers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But this time around, ratepayers and not IPP investors will be stuck with the risk, if utilities rush to add all that new gas-fired capacity to rate base.

Category: 
Frontlines
Author Bio: 

Michael T. Burr is Fortnightly’s editor-in-chief. Email him at burr@pur.com

Deck: 

Portfolio planning in the age of gas.

Federal Feud

When Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays led an attack on the federal Springfield Armory in January 1787—the spark that ignited the federalist movement—he scarcely could’ve guessed that now, 225 years later, his spiritual descendants would still be fighting that very same battle.

Author Bio: 

Bruce W. Radford (radford@pur.com) is Fortnightly’s publisher, and Michael T. Burr (burr@pur.com) is the editor-in-chief.

Deck: 

The jurisdictional battle rages on, with FERC and EPA squaring off against the states.

Fortnightly's Top 10

The year’s most important legal and regulatory rulings.
It’s a war out there — or rather, several of them. Fortnightly reports from the front lines of the conflict over U.S. energy and environmental policy.

Last Call

Conditions are ideal for utility financing—but not forever. Although interest rates remain low, policy changes weigh on capital structures.

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Figure 1 - 10-Year Bonds
Figure 2 - 30-Year Bonds
Figure 3 - Utility Bond Tenors
Figure 4 - Utility & Power Ratings Snapshot
Rising interest rates and unknown dividend tax policies could be a headwind for utility stocks. –Brian Tate, Wells Fargo Securities
Utilities have a  significant amount of capex planned in the near term, and bonus depreciation is not a funding strategy. –David Nastro, Morgan Stanley
There’s good reason to believe there will be a lot of M&A activity around contracted renewable assets in 2013. –Frank Napolitano, RBC Capital Markets
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Sidebar Title: 
Pay It Forward
Sidebar Body: 

One way that some utilities have been getting ahead of market changes is by issuing equity to pre-fund costs they expect to incur later. This generally takes two forms: equity forward contracts, and mandatory convertible offerings. Examples include Pepco Holdings, which sold about $350 million in shares on a forward basis in March, and PPL, which sold about $270 million in April. Also, NextEra Energy issued $600 million in three-year, mandatory convertible bonds on May 1, and another $650 million in September.

Both approaches carry a premium, but they allow utilities to capture today’s high stock prices in a forward sale. And some issuers have found banks hungry enough to participate in equity deals that they’ll take a substantial haircut for the opportunity. (See “BofA loses $12m on bought convert,” IFR 1932, May 2012.)

However, terms likely will normalize as soon as the current confluence of forces drives utilities back into the equity markets in earnest.–MTB

Author Bio: 

Michael T. Burr is Fortnightly’s editor-in-chief. Email him at burr@pur.com.

Deck: 

Utilities are enjoying some of the best financing terms anybody’s ever seen. Is the party winding down?

A Pricey Peninsula

High prices have turned Michigan against regional planning -- a possible foretaste of what to expect under FERC Order 1000.

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Figure 1 - Proposed Multi Value Project Portfolio Overview
Figure 2 - MISO Prices May 29, 2012 – 1:05 P.M.
Figure 3 - May 29, 2012 – 2:05 P.M.
Figure 4 - May 29, 2012 – 3:35 P.M.
Category: 
Commission Watch
Author Bio: 

 

Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.

Deck: 

Michigan chafes over regional grid planning, providing a policy lesson for the feds.

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