Research Reports

Viability Policies and Assessment Methods for Small Water Utilities

June 1992
— Janice A. Beecher, Ph.D., G. Richard Dreese, Ph.D., and James R Landers

The proliferation of nonviable small water systems may not be the most prominent issue on the regulatory agenda at large, but it probably is the most pressing issue with respect to the regulation of water utilities. Public policies in this area can be distinguished in terms of whether they target proliferation (the birth ofsystems) or viability (the survival ofsystems), although many policies actually address both problems at once. Based on the empirical evidence, proliferation (that is, growth in the number of systems) may not be as pervasive a problem today as might be assumed. The decline in the investor-owned water utility population can partly be attributed to economic factors, but the role ofstate policy in contributing to this trend may be equally relevant. Still, controlling the emergence of water systems is perhaps the most essential of all viability policies; without nonproliferation policies the task of improving viability is made much harder. This research endeavor has shown that performance assessment methods can play a role in developing viability policies for water utilities. Read More ›

Contract Pricing of Electric and Telephone Service

April 1992
— Edwin A. Rosenberg, Ph.D., Daniel J. Duann, Ph.D., Peter A. Nagler, and Cary D. Wasden

Utility services are increasingly provided under contracts or special tariffs negotiated between utilities and customers outside the traditional rate case. Such contracts or special tariffs may be offered to provide economic development rates, incentive rates, interruptible rates, or rates for special services. They often include prices set below regular tariff rates for the same or similar services, and may be subject to less regulatory scrutiny than that applied to regular tariffs. How widespread is the practice? What are commission attitudes and policies towards it? What criteria do regulators use in evaluating contracts and special tariffs? To what extent should regulators and ratepayers be concerned? Does the practice of providing utility services under individually negotiated contracts or special tariffs require developing new regulatory policy? Read More ›

Incentive Regulation for Local Gas Distribution Companies Under Changing Industry Structure

December 1991
— Mohammad Harunuzzaman, Kenneth W. Costello, Daniel J. Duann, and Sung-Bong Cho

State regulators have been striving to develop responses to the emerging competitive environment in the gas industry. A major issue worth examining is whether current state regulation provides correct incentives to local gas distribution companies (LDCs) to efficiently utilize many opportunities offered by the new and rapidly changing gas market. The study examines gas purchase opportunities currently available to the LDC, which have expanded significantly in the post-Order 436 era. These expanded opportunities also make the design of a purchase portfolio much more complex than in the pre-Order 436 era. This complexity is likely to grow further following the final implementation of the NOPR (also known as the 'mega-NOPR'). Read More ›

Natural Gas Producer-Distributor Contracts

State regulatory issues and approaches

January 1988
— J. Stephen Henderson, Jean-Michel Guldmann, Anand Desai, Mohammad Harunuzzaman, Peter A. Nagler, and Mark E. Eifert

The natural gas transportation policy currently being fashioned at the FERC is changing the way in which gas is bought and sold in the U.S. and the way in which its cost is regulated by state public utility commissions. Local gas distribution companies are likely to have much greater freedom in contracting for gas than during any period in the history of the industry. Instead of relying mostly on its traditional interstate pipeline supplier(s), a distributor may have future opportunities to participate directly in the wellhead gas market and to arrange to transport the gas it buys through interstate pipelines that have decided to participate voluntarily in the federal gas transportation program under the FERC Orders 436 and 500. Consequently, state regulators are faced with the prospect of reviewing, understanding, and overseeing a distributor's contractual arrangements for gas supply to a much larger extent than was the case when a FERC-regulated pipeline was the distributor's principal supplier. This report examines several facets of the resulting effects on state regulatory policies, procedures, and oversight activities, recent changes in the federal transportation program, and quantitative models to determine an optimal portfolio of gas supply sources. Read More ›

Natural Gas Industry

Restructuring Issues

September 1986
— J. Stephen Henderson

In 1986, The National Regulatory Research Institute undertook a project specifically directed toward keeping state regulators of natural gas utilities informed about policy issues emerging from changes in the structure of the gas industry. We have done this through a series of short reports and papers related to gas industry restructuring. The four papers in this volume are offered as a contribution to the public policy debate on how state regulators can best respond to the restructuring of the gas industry. Read More ›

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