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Fortnightly Magazine - January 15 1995

Moving Off the Mainframe

Melvin E. Schick

No matter how you cut it, the Customer Information System (CIS) represents a utility's largest computer asset. It eats up the most disk space. It contains the most programs and lines of code. It handles the largest volume of business, whether measured in transactions or dollars.

Billing lies at the core of the CIS. It's the most complex area. But once bills go out to customers, the CIS must manage accounts receivable and the collection process, not to mention financial control and reporting.

Davis Proposes Transportation Bill

Lori A. Burkhart

At the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners' quarterly meeting in Reno, NV, Edward M. Davis, president of NAC Holding Inc. and former president of the American Nuclear Energy Council, praised regulators for recognizing the need for a centralized interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel by 1998 as well as the need for development of a transportation infrastructure.

California Modernizes DSM Shareholders Incentives

Phillip S. Cross

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has modified its policies on incentive mechanisms for utility demand-side management (DSM) efforts, while adopting new shareholder incentives for Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Diego Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison Co., and Southern California Gas Co.

Utilities Bullish on Meter-Reading Technology

W. Lynn Garner

By the end of 1996, the 400,000 urban customers of Kansas City Power & Light Co. (KCPL) will enter a new age of technology.

A real-time wireless network will bounce readings from small transmitters installed in the existing meters of every home and business in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area back to computers at the utility's customer services office.

DOE Delays Hearing on Externality Cost-Efficiency

Lori A. Burkhart

The Department of Energy (DOE) has delayed until January 19 a hearing on its proposal to weigh external environmental costs when setting efficiency requirements for electric appliances, air conditioners, and other consumer goods. The hearing will consider selection and application of economic theory, the role of the regulatory process, scientific basis for proposed action, and economic impact of such a far-reaching shift on the economy. (em LB

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New York Settles on Renewable Resource Plan Incentives

By Phillip S. Cross

The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued a settlement order on using renewable resources to meet the state's future electric needs. The order found that waste-to-energy facilities properly were included in the proceeding, and dismissed speculative rate-impact concerns raised by certain parties.

People

H.J. "Jim" Mellen, Jr. was named CEO of MDU Resources Group Inc. He will retain his current position as president. Mellen replaced John A. Schuchart, who will continue as chairman of the board.

Robert Anderson, Montana Public Service Commission member, was elected 104th president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Edward H. Salmon, member of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, was elected first v.p.

APPA Asks NARUC to End Rate Secrecy

Lori A. Burkhart

In a letter to Ronald Russell, chair of the Electricity Committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Larry Hobart, executive director of the American Public Power Association, argues that investor-owned utilities should not be allowed to keep rates confidential. Hobart says that rate secrecy destroys electric industry competition and that secret sales are a form of predatory pricing barred by antitrust law. He also claims that secrecy violates consumers' right to know if they are paying their fair share of utility costs.

Rhode Island Reviews Adjustment Clause Plan Incentives

By Phillip S. Cross

The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) intends to open a proceeding to consider the effect of fuel-adjustment clauses on utility incentives to reduce customer costs, finding that the passing through to customers of generating fuel costs may create a disincentive to supply-side efficiency.

The Energy Policy Act of 1992, amending section 111(d) of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, requires states to consider electric utility investment in efficiency improvements at generation, transmission, and distribution facilities by October 24, 1995.

Mailbag

Privatization Knocks

The timely article on Central America and the Caribbean by Lee M. Goodwin (Nov. 15, 1994) omitted to mention the privatization potential of the region's utility systems. For example, Grenada recently privatized 50 percent of its utility, GRENLEC, and Trinidad and Tobago has privatized electric generation. These alternatives to "greenfields" project development deserve attention from U.S. developers as well. In any case, based on my experience, I would certainly echo Mr.

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