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May 15, 2009
NEM Smart Grid Comments

NEM submitted comments on the Commission's Proposed Smart Grid Policy to offer recommendations that will allow the Commission to effectuate the legislative provisions requiring it to ensure the development of a “Smart Grid” in a cost-effective, technologically-advanced manner that concomitantly avoids the creation of new information and/or demand or demand response-related monopolies. NEM urged the Commission to ensure that all authorized market participants have secure, reliable, non-discriminatory (non-proprietary), open access to the information “pipeline(s)” (IT infrastructures) that will be created to facilitate the “Smart Grid,” providing the nation with “open standards” to implement new generations of smart meters and smart IT infrastructures needed to “interoperably” handle a virtual tsunami of near real-time usage and pricing data necessary to effectuate the new national efficiency, demand response and environmental impact-related energy policies and legislative intent of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

NEM recommended that “Smart Grid” information transmission and related distribution standards should be developed on a national level. Noting that, there is nothing “Smart” about implementing multiple, proprietary, non-compatible metering standards across the country that raise the cost of doing business in different markets. NEM also recommended that national, open standards for "smart thermostats" be developed as part of the Smart Grid effort. This will permit monitoring of price signals at the ISO/RTO level so that it can immediately respond by reducing demand throughout the home or shifting it to off peak pricing signals from the ISO/RTO. It could support residential demand response behavior by permitting the implementation of a demand response rate design for homeowners as well as new load profiling at the homeowner level. Open standards for “smart thermostats” will also aid in the prevention of potential meter-based demand monopolies. The full text of NEM's Smart Grid Comments is available on the NEM Website.

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Inquiry into Gas Utility Hedging Practices

The Commission opened an inquiry into the appropriate extent of hedging for natural gas utilities. The inquiry is premised on the Commission's observation that current natural gas futures prices are less than the average price for the last three winter heating seasons. In order to review utility information in hedging plans for the 2009-10 winter heating season, the Commission directed the utilities to file the following: "general observations on the short and long-term price trends for gas; its position on the hedging of flow volumes for the 2009-2010 winter heating season; its current winter flowing gas hedging plan or practices; the current status of hedging winter flowing volumes for the 2009-2010 winter heating season; and any other relevant material that should be brought to the attention of the Commission." Comments are due May 22, 2009. A hearing will be held May 27, 2009. The full text of the Notice Initiating Proceeding is available on the NEM Website.

New York
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ConEd Electric Rate Case

ConEd filed an electric rate case that proposes a three-year rate plan for the three-year period ending March 31, 2013. The filing includes proposed modifications to the merchant function charge, billing and payment processing charge and metering charges. The merchant function charge is comprised of three components - competitive supply-related charge, competitive credit and collection-related charge, and uncollectibles associated with commodity. The present and proposed merchant function charges are hotlinked here. The billing and payment processing charge is proposed to increase to $1.05 per bill.

ConEd describes its proposed energy conservation and emergency preparedness communications program. ConEd requests that the Commission permit a change to its Advertising Policy Statement, one of which changes would be to include an estimate of ESCO revenues in the calculation used to derive the appropriate advertsing funding. ConEd argues this is appropriate for advertising that benefits sales and transportation customers. ConEd also noted its intention to unbundle its transmission and distribution rates at the end of the three year rate plan.

The ALJs will convene a procedural conference in this case on June 2, 2009, at 10:30AM at the Commission's Albany offices. The purpose of the conference is to discuss scheduling and procedural matters as well as for ConEd to provide an overview of its filing.

The full text of the ConEd filing is available at this hotlink.

NEM Comments on Implementation of 18-a Assessment

NEM submitted comments on the Commission’s proposed rule to implement a Temporary State Energy and Utility Service Conservation Assessment, under amended Public Service Law §18-a. Of particular interest to NEM in the comments is the methodology used to estimate ESCO revenues for purposes of the 18-a assessment. Commission Staff recommends, “that the Commission require electric and gas corporations to estimate ESCO revenues by multiplying the known amount of electric or gas delivered to ESCO customers by the commodity supply price charged by the company for sales to its bundled service customers.” Staff also recommends that utilities recover, “any assessment amounts greater than the amounts found in the entity’s base delivery rates via a surcharge,” that would be set forth as a separate line item on the customer bill. NEM supported Commission adoption of Staff’s recommendations as a practical, administratively efficient means to implement the Temporary Assessment. The full text of NEM's Comments is available on the NEM Website.

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Proposed Order on PPL Electric Market

In anticipation of the expiration of rate caps in PPL's service territory on December 31, 2009, the Commission issued a proposed order considering actions to "achieve a fully competitive retail market in the PPL service territory." The proposed order identifies the following issues for comment: 1) customer information access; 2) data access; 3) bill and rate ready options; 4) timely EDI testing; 5) POR; 6) consumer education; 7) development of a uniform supplier tariff; 8) supplier ombudsman; and 9) utility cost recovery for competition-related activities. Comments are due 30 days after entry of the proposed order. The full text of the Proposed Order will be posted on the NEM Website when made available electronically.

PECO to Convene POR Collaborative

PECO will convene three meetings for electric suppliers on Purchase of Receivables, as per its approved Joint Petition for Settlement. The first POR meeting will be held on June 1, 2009, in Harrisburg from noon until 4 PM. RSVP by May 15, 2009, to Dial in information and exact meeting location will be forthcoming.

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