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February 26, 2010
NEM's 13th Annual National Energy Restructuring Conference

NEM's 13th Annual National Energy Restructuring Conference - NEM will convene its 13th Annual National Energy Restructuring Conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel Washington D.C. Convention Center on April 27th & 28th, 2010. This year’s theme is “Renaissance in Energy Markets.” Topics of discussion will include Competitive Energy Supply, Demand, Prices and Economic Opportunities. Please use this hotlink to register for the event. We make your hotel reservations at the Embassy Suites Convention Center, Washington, DC at NEM's preferred rate of $289 per night per room.

We have already confirmed a number of key regulators and legislators and this promises to be a "can't miss" event. Confirmed participants include: Congressman James Clyburn, Majority Whip (D-SC); Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) (invited); Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) (invited); Jon Wellinghoff, FERC Chairman; Marc Spitzer, FERC Commissioner; Philip Moeller, FERC Commissioner; James Cawley, PAPUC Chairman; Alan Schriber, OH PUC Chairman; Douglas Nazarian, MDPSC Chairman; Manuel Flores, ICC Chairman; Orjiakor Osiogu, MIPSC Chairman; David Armstrong, KYPSC Chairman; Sharon Reishus, ME PUC Chairman; Betty Ann Kane, DCPSC Chairman; Erin O'Connell Diaz, ICC Commissioner; Robert Curry, NYPSC Commissioner; Catherine Pugh, MD State Senator; Jess Totten, TX PUC Director; and Eric Matheson, PAPUC Energy Advisor.

Technical Conference and Filing Extension on Form 552

FERC has issued an extension of the Form 552 filing date to July 1, 2010, in view of its decision that it would be helpful to convene a technical conference on March 25, 2010, to discuss certain Form 552 issues.

The technical conference issues will be:
1) inconsistencies in reporting upstream transactions in the natural gas supply chain on Form No. 552, and whether these transactions contribute to wholesale price formation;
2) whether transactions involving balancing, cash-out, operational, and in-kind transactions should be reported on Form No. 552; and
3) whether the units of measurement (TBtu) currently used for reporting volumes in the form are appropriate.

An agenda for the March conference will be forthcoming. The full texts of the Notice of Technical Conference and Filing Extension are available on the NEM Website.

Order on Capacity Release Program

FERC issued an Order on a request for clarification of its capacity release program related to pipelines' selective discounting under Order 712 and 712-A (the Flow Through Order). Specifically, rehearing was sought of the instance, "where the releasing shipper’s service agreement expressly limits a discounted/negotiated usage or fuel charge to particular primary or secondary points, the pipeline must always treat the asset manager as similarly situated at those points, regardless of whether the asset manager uses those points to make deliveries to the releasing shipper." The Commission noted, "In the Flow-Through Order, the Commission declined to establish a blanket requirement that pipelines must always provide the same discounted or negotiated usage or fuel charges to an asset manager replacement shipper that it has provided to the primary firm shipper. Instead, the Commission determined that pipelines should apply the Commission’s existing selective discounting policy on a case-by-case basis in deciding whether to grant a discounted or negotiated usage or fuel charge to an asset manager replacement shipper, subject to a general requirement of no undue discrimination. The Commission explained that pursuant to the existing selective discounting policy, pipelines may grant discounts or negotiated rates based on the varying demand elasticities of their customers, and thus, pipelines may give discounts to some shippers but not others, including at the same point, if the shippers have differing demand characteristics." The Commission denied the request for clarification finding it would be inappropriate to make a blanket determination that an asset manager replacement shipper is always similarly situated to the releasing shipper if the asset manager uses points that the releasing shipper’s contract specifies as eligible for a discounted or negotiated usage or fuel charge. The Commission said there too many potential factual variables to make such a ruling. The full text of the Order is available on the NEM Website.

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Commission Reaches Out to Supplier Community on AMI Developments

The Commission sent a letter to retail and wholesale suppliers to advise them of developments in DC's implementation of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). Specifically, Pepco's plan to implement AMI is contingent on a $44.6 federal grant that would be supplemented by allowing Pepco to create a regulatory asset to recover AMI deployment costs. The Commission's letter to suppliers alerts them that its upcoming AMI decisions could have implications for the SOS procurement process, and decide issues related to ownership of data, customer privacy, meter functionality, billing issues, and, "how to get the best use of AMI in a retail shopping environment." The full text of the Letter is available on the NEM Website.

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BGE Revises Proposed Gas POR Discount Rate

The Commission recently required BGE to remove $715,000 in RM35-related IT costs from its Gas Cost Recovery Charge (GCRC) with said costs to instead be recovered in its gas POR discount rate. BGE made a revised RM35 compliance filing to make this change and incorporate the program development costs removed from the GCRC into the RM35 discount rate. BGE will amortize the cost over three years and divide the amount to be recovered in each of the three years by the estimated gas supplier revenues billed in each of those years. Unrecovered program development costs will be included in a reconciliation component. The change results in revised gas POR discount rates. For residentials, the proposed discount rate would be 2.62% and for non-residentials would be 1.09%. The full text of the BGE Filing is available on the NEM Website.

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Commission Approves Result of Columbia Gas SSO Rate Auction

This week the Commission approved the results of the Columbia Gas standard service offer (SSO) auction, establishing a retail price adjustment of $1.93 per Mcf. The SSO rate is a monthly adjusted rate that will replace Columbia's GCR mechanism. The SSO rate is determined as the sum of the retail price adjustment plus the NYMEX month-end settlement price. The auction covered the period of April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011. Chairman Schriber stated that, “The auction netted a positive result with the new retail price adjustment and demonstrated that the natural gas market will provide a better commodity price for Columbia customers than the gas cost recovery mechanism.” The full text of the Order is available on the NEM Website.

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Commission Initiates Review of Competitive Safeguard Regulations

Approving a Motion of Commissioner Powelson, the Commission voted to initiate a review of its Competitive Safeguard Regulations applicable to electric utilities and electric suppliers. The Regulations, designed to assure the provision of direct access on equal and nondiscriminatory terms, to prevent cross subsidization between EDCs and their affiliated suppliers, and adopted nearly ten years ago were meant, "to prohibit unfair or deceptive practices by suppliers, and to establish and maintain an effective and vibrant competitive market in the purchase and sale of retail electric energy in Pennsylvania." Numerous changed circumstances were cited for the review: "rate caps for a significant portion of Pennsylvanians have been removed, with the remaining caps to come off in less than ten months; a large number of electric generation suppliers have been licensed and are serving a considerable amount of the electric load throughout the EDC service territories where the rate caps have expired; the Legislature has passed and the Commission has implemented sweeping legislation mandating the use of alternative energy sources and energy efficiency and conservation measures; and there have been numerous technological advances related to the infrastructure used to provide electric service and the exchange of data related to the provision of that service." The full text of Powelson's Motion is available on the NEM Website.

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