Should the Town of Belmont pursue retail choice?
If Belmont does pursue a retail choice approach, what benefits to the Town or consumers in the Town are most important to obtain in a retail choice program?
If Belmont does pursue a retail choice approach, what timeframe should be considered?
If Belmont does pursue a retail choice approach, what approach should be pursued?
If Belmont does not pursue a retail choice approach, are there alternative power supply approaches or services, to be provided by BMLD, that are of interest?
Excerpt from the Introduction:
The New England states were among the first in the nation to restructure wholesale and retail electricity markets beginning in the late 1990s. In large part, the action was prompted by the burden of having the highest electricity costs in the country, which created hardships for residential consumers and handicapped many businesses from competing on a “level playing field” with companies located outside the region.2 Restructuring required most electric utilities to: sell their generating plants, allow consumers to choose among electricity suppliers and procure electricity for those consumers not choosing an electricity supplier – while remaining regulated and responsible for local distribution service. Wholesale restructuring involved creating a fair and reliable market for competition in generating electricity while ensuring equal access to transmission grids. Once established, the wholesale market caused electricity to become a commodity with prices set not by regulators, but by market rules and the balance between supply and demand.
The restructuring of the energy industry from regulated vertically-integrated monopolies to competitive markets has been described as "one of the largest single industrial reorganizations in the history of the world." With 9.4 million residential and 1.2 million business electric and natural gas accounts able to choose among a number of energy providers, New York State is recognized as a leader in this area. New York has adopted a flexible approach which has allowed policies to be guided and shaped by the successes and challenges experienced in this and other states, and by continuously evolving market conditions.
This approach has required an ongoing appraisal of the status of New York's markets and the identification of further steps to be taken to promote the long-range vision adopted by the New York State Public Service Commission (NYPSC or the Commission). As a part of that ongoing effort, this report assesses the current state of New York's wholesale electric markets and retail electric and gas markets, describes progress that has been made over the past several years in creating such markets, and identifies opportunities for continued progress toward robust competition in New York State's energy industry.
We analyze a number of unstudied aspects of retail electricity competition. We first explore the implications of load profiling of consumers whose traditional meters do not allow for measurement of their real time consumption, when consumers are homogeneous up to a scaling factor. In general, the combination of retail competition and load profiling does not yield the second best prices given the non price responsiveness of consumers. Specifically, the competitive equilibrium does not support the Ramsey two-part tariff. By contrast, when consumers have real time meters and are billed based on real time prices and consumption, retail competition yields the Ramsey prices even when consumers can only partially respond to variations in real time prices. More complex consumer heterogeneity does not lead to adverse se1ection and competitive screening behavior unless consumers have real time meters and are not rational. We then examine the incentives competitive retailers have to install one of two types of advanced metering equipment. Competing retailers overinvest in real time meters compared to the Ramsey optimum, but the investment incentives are constrained optimal given load-profiling and retail competition. Finally, we consider the effects of physical limitations on the ability of system operators to cut off individual customers. Competing retailers have no incentive to determine the aggregate value of non-interruption of consumers in the zones they serve, preferring instead to free ride on other retailers serving consumers in the same zones.
Excerpt from the Extecutive Summary:
The Committee presents this study to the community for consideration and comment. The attached report and associated appendices and reference materials provide additional information and context. These materials are available at Belmont Municipal Lighting Department's (“BMLD”) offices, on BMLD’s web site, at the Town Clerk’s Office, and at the Belmont Library. The Committee invites any and all comments and specifically seeks input and comment on the following questions for its consideration in forming recommendations.
The rapid growth in energy trading and movement towards deregulation of electricity markets have come to a halt in the wake of assertions that western U.S. energy markets were manipulated. This paper refocuses attention on the potential efficiency gains from competitive wholesale power trading, showing that for any given level of average demand, retail electricity prices will be lower if electricity is traded in competitive wholesale markets than if electricity is delivered by integrated producer-retailers. Wholesale power trading allows for the diversification of demand risk, and the greatest efficiency gains accrue when power demand is least correlated across markets and when there is substantial geographic variation in expected demand. Simulation evidence indicates that real time power trading could reduce retail prices by conservative estimates of 3 to 4% on average in the U.S., and that the combination of forward and real time trading could reduce prices by 6 to 10% or more. This analysis indicates that economic efficiency would be best served by policy aimed at ensuring that power markets are indeed competitive, and that sufficient transmission capacity exists for profitable power trades to be completed.
Excerpt from the Introduction:
Electric-industry restructuring has derailed. The massive blackout of August 14, 2003 certainly was not needed to underscore the point, but it adds urgency to the effort to find solutions. Wholesale markets continue to evolve slowly and erratically but are impeded by state- federal conflict, regulatory and legislative uncertainty, malfeasance, poor credit and outright collapses, of which Enron is only the most notorious. FERC’s efforts to promote more efficient markets through regional transmission organizations and a wholesale market platform offer promise, but have generated confusion and opposition. In the last five years, increased generation competition has elicited more than 100,000 megawatts of gas- fired peaking and baseload capacity, which has contributed both to a period of relatively low wholesale prices in many regions and increased exposure to gas price volatility across the system. But competitors’ losses have created substantial uncertainty about how quickly and on what terms capital markets will support additional investment throughout this sector. Indeed, investment in all categories of electricity infrastructure is down significantly, in part because of surplus capacity conditions in certain regions, but also because of uncertainty concerning which entities have the responsibility for identifying and making investments in the transmission and distribution networks, and uncertainties about how the associated costs will be recovered. A challenge in reviving these capital flows is to clarify prospects for cost recovery and reward: for example, when and on what terms will distribution utilities have the ability to enter into long-term contracts with generation service providers; how will distribution utility responsibilities interact with the opportunities created for competitive retail suppliers in states with retail competition; who has the responsibility for identifying needed enhancements to the transmission network; how will they be paid for securing them; and who will pay? The August 2003 blackout is a reminder of how much hinges on finding practical answers promptly.
Excerpt from the Executive Summary:
The Department of Public Utility Control should require the electric distribution companies to procure a variety of Alternative Transitional Standard Offers that will promote the generation of electricity through renewable sources or the efficient use of energy resources in Connecticut. Such alternative Offers have significant potential to improve market stability and efficiency for all customers, to ameliorate environmental impacts of many kinds by reducing the combustion of fossil fuels, and to eventually reduce customer bills.
Excerpt from the Executive Summary:
Overall, the electric supply industry’s struggles continue for a third year. The string of events began with the price run-ups in California and the West in 2000 and 2001, continued with Enron’s disclosures and collapse in late 2001, was followed by disclosures of accounting improprieties and data misreporting, and has continued with the “credit crunch” the industry still faces. As if this was not enough to contend with, as this report was being finalized, the most widespread electrical blackout in North American history occurred. While the cause has not been determined at this time, it has already sparked a debate about possible causes and solutions and has renewed interest in federal energy legislation that was already under consideration by the U.S. Congress.