Electric Utility Restructuring
Briefing Book
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106th Congress Legislation

Legislation | Hearings

Comprehensive legislation to reduce electricity regulation addresses three issues (see CRS Report RL30087). The first issue involves reforming the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 ("PUHCA"). Critics of PUHCA, contend that its heavy regulatory scheme is no longer necessary because of modified disclosure standards and increased monitoring by financial professionals and consumer groups. In addition, the critics claim that the utilities are now subject to more intense scrutiny by federal and state regulatory bodies. Ultimately, PUHCA's critics argue that the Act's requirements deter free expansion and investment in new areas.

Those who reject a repeal of PUHCA maintain that until the transition to a fully competitive market is complete, the Act is still needed. PUHCA's supporters believe that repeal prior to the achievement of full competition could result in market domination by a small group of merged and diversified companies.

In 1981, the SEC recommended that PUHCA be repealed. It believed that PUHCA's objective in reorganizing the holding companies had been fulfilled. The SEC stated further that PUHCA's remaining provisions were either duplicative of other regulatory schemes or no longer needed. Although there has been bipartisan support for PUHCA's repeal, the Act remains intact.

The second issue involves PURPA's mandatory purchase requirement provisions (see CRS Report RS20146). Many investor-owned utilities support repeal of these provisions. They argue that their state regulators' "misguided" implementation of PURPA has forced them to pay contractually high prices for power that they do not need. Opponents of this legislation argue that it will decrease competition and impede development of renewable energy.

The third issue is retail wheeling. Retail wheeling involves allowing retail customers to choose their electric generation from any source available and having their local utility wheel it to them. Currently, this is under state jurisdiction, and some states have moved toward retail wheeling. However, some have argued that the federal government should act as a backstop to ensure that all states introduce retail wheeling, preempting state authority if necessary. Most states that have moved on electricity restructuring do not want new federal regulation to affect the states' activities.

Legislation

H.R. 25 (Boehlert)
Requires nationwide reductions in nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emissions from utility sources. Includes provisions to study and control emissions of mercury from utility and major industry sources. Introduced January 6, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 341 (Andrews)
Establishes a fund for environmental priorities to be funded by a portion of the consumer savings resulting from retail electricity competition. Introduced January 19, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce with subsequent referral to the Committee on Transportation.

H.R. 657 (Sweeney)
Requires nationwide reductions in nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emissions from utility sources. Includes provisions to study and control emissions of mercury from utility and major industry sources. Introduced February 9, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 667 (Burr)
Comprehensive electric utility restructuring legislation. Prospectively repeals Section 210 PURPA. Repeals PUHCA 12 months after date of enactment but maintains FERC and state public utility commission access to utility books and records. States that have provided for the recovery of stranded costs may not modify or repeal such provisions for seven years as a condition of receiving federal energy assistance. States may permit a transmitting utility to deny access to transmission and local distribution facilities to any utility attempting to wheel power from states that maintain exclusive franchise market areas. Introduced February 10, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 971 (Walsh)
Existing PURPA contracts could be amended by state regulatory authorities to reflect current incremental cost of the purchasing utility. States could require that future PURPA contracts reflected varying incremental costs of the purchasing utility. Introduced March 3, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 1138 (Stearns)
Prospective repeal of §210 of PURPA. Contracts in effect on January 6, 1999, would not be affected. Stranded costs associated with PURPA contracts can be recovered. Introduced March 16, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 1486 (Franks)
Requires that rules are promulgated within 2 years enactment that would allow the Federal Power Marketing Administrations and the Tennessee Valley Authority to sell electricity at market prices. Introduced April 20, 1999; referred to Committees on Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Commerce.

H.R. 1587 (Stearns)
Comprehensive electric utility restructuring legislation. Introduced April 27, 1999; referred to Committees on Commerce, Resources, and Transportation and Resources.

H.R. 1828 (Bliley, by request)
Administration's comprehensive electricity restructuring legislation. Introduced May 17, 1999; referred to Committees on Commerce, Resources, Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Judiciary. Commerce Committee hearing held June 17, 1999.

H.R. 2363(Tauzin)
Repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 and replaces it with the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1999 . States and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission maintain limited access to specific utility books and records. Introduced June 25, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce. Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing held on July 22, 1999.

H.R. 2050 (Largent)
Comprehensive electricity restructuring legislation. Introduced June 8, 1999; referred to Committees on Commerce, Ways and Means, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Resources.

H.R. 2569 (Pallone)
Provides for a comprehensive system of performance standards and emissions caps to control emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and mercury from generating facilities. Other provisions encourage renewable energy and efficiency programs and repeal Section 210 of PURPA. Introduced July 20, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 2602 (Wynn)
Amends the Federal Power Act with respect to electric reliability and oversight. Introduced July 22, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 2645 (Kucinich)
Allows retail choice. Includes provisions on consumer protection and environmental protection. Introduced July 29, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 2734 (Brown, S.)
Allows local government entities to serve as non-profit aggregators of electricity services. Introduced August 5, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 2786 (Sawyer)
Repeals Section 203 of the Federal Power Act. FERC could approve and encourage voluntary membership in regional transmission organizations. Introduced August 5, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 2900 (Waxman)
Requires nationwide reductions in nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and mercury emissions from utility sources. Introduced September 21, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 2944 (Barton)
A comprehensive electricity restructuring bill. Introduced September 24, 1999; referred to Committee on Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Resources, and Ways and Means. The House Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a markup session on October 27,1999. A summary is available. On October 28, 1999, H.R. 2944 was forwarded by subcommittee to full committee (amended).

H.R. 2947 (Inslee)
Allows the use of net metering by distributed power. Introduced September 24, 1999; referred to the Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

H.R. 2980 (Allen)
Clean Power Plant Act of 1999. Amends the Clean Air Act to Require reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury, carbon dioxide, and hazardous air pollutants from electric power plants and to provide assistance for workers and communities adversely affected by reduced consumption of coal. Introduced September 30, 1999; referred to Committees on Commerce, Education and the Workforce, Transportation and Infrastructure, Banking and Financial Services, and Science.

S. 161 (Moynihan)
Requires that the Federal Power Marketing Administrations and the Tennessee Valley Authority sell electricity at market prices within 2 years of enactment. Introduced January 19, 1999; referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

S. 172 (Moynihan)
Requires nationwide reductions in nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emissions from utility sources. Includes provisions to study and control emissions of mercury from utility and major industry sources. Introduced January 19, 1999; referred to Committee on Environment and Public Works.

S. 282 (Mack)
Prospectively repeals Section 210 of PURPA. Stranded costs associated with PURPA contracts would be fully recoverable. Introduced January 21, 1999; referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

S. 313 (Shelby)
Repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. States and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission maintain limited access to specific utility books and records. Introduced January 27, 1999; referred to Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Reported to Senate without amendment March 2, 1999 (S.Rept. 106-7).

S. 516 (Thomas)
Comprehensive electric utility restructuring legislation. Prospectively repeals Section 210 PURPA. Repeals PUHCA 18 months after date of enactment but maintains FERC and state public utility commission access to utility books and records. States may choose to impose charges for stranded cost recovery. Provides for a FERC-sanctioned Electric Reliability Organization. States may assess charges to fund public benefit programs. Introduced March 3, 1999; referred to Committee and Energy and Natural Resources.

S. 673 (Leahy)
Proposes a comprehensive control program to reduce mercury emissions from utility plants and other sources. Introduced March 19, 1999; referred to Committee on Environment and Public Works.

S. 1047 (Murkowski, by request)
Administration's comprehensive electricity restructuring proposal. Includes all administration provisions except the tax provisions (see S. 1048) . Introduced May 13, 1999; referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

S. 1048 (Murkowski, by request)
Tax provisions of the Administration's comprehensive electricity restructuring proposal (see, S. 1047). Introduced May 13, 1999; referred to Committee on Finance.

S. 1273 (Bingaman)
Amends §210 of PURPA, amends Federal Power Act to facilitate a transition to more competitive electric power markets. Introduced June 24, 1999; referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

S. 1284 (Nickles)
Repeals PUHCA, prospective repeal of §210 of PURPA, amends Federal Power Act so that no state can discriminate against any consumer who seeks to purchase electric energy in interstate commerce from any supplier. Introduced June 24, 1999; referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

S. 1369 (Jeffords)
Provides for a comprehensive system of performance standards and emissions caps to control emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and mercury from generating facilities. Other provisions encourage renewable energy and efficiency programs and repeal Section 210 of PURPA. Introduced July 14, 1999; referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

S. 1949 (Leahy)
Establishes a comprehensive system of performance standards emissions caps from mercury, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. Promotes use of clean coal technologies, fuel cells, and renewable energy sources. Introduced November 17, 1999; referred to Committee on Finance.

S. 2071 (Gorton)
Establishes a reliability organization and standards for transmission of bulk power.
Introduced February 10, 2000; referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. On June 21, 2000, S. 2071 was substituted for the language of S. 2098 and reported out of Committee.

S. 2098 (Murkowski)
Introduced as comprehensive electric restructuring legislation that would encourage utilities to form regional transmission organizations (RTO) and allow utilities to have active ownership in the RTO. As introduced, it would create an Electric Reliability Organization. It would give the federal government eminent domain rights to cite new transmission lines. It would prospectively repeal of Section 210 of PURPA and repeal PUHCA one year after date of enactment but maintain FERC and state public utility commission access to utility books and records. Introduced February 24, 2000; referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Amended on June 21, 2000 and reported out of Committee by substituting the language of S. 2071, stand-alone reliability legislation.

Hearings

The following comittees have held hearings on electricity.

House
Comittee on Agriculture (Main Page.)
Committee on Agriculture Hearings Search. Search on "electricity".
Comittee on Commerce. Scroll down to "Hot Topics" and choose Electricity Competition.
Committee on the Judiciary. Scroll down to Oversight hearing on "Competitive Issues in Electricity Deregulation".

Senate
Committee on Banking
Committee on Energy

Page last updated June 24, 2000

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