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Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1995

DOE Prepares to Tighten its Belt

W. Lynn Garner

The Department of Energy (DOE) will definitely be leaner in the future, if not outright abolished by the newly Republican Congress. To get a jump on Republicans as well as to help pay for a middle-class tax cut, President Clinton proposes to cut DOE's budget by $10.6 billion over the next five years-a 10-percent cut in the agency's $18-billion annual budget.

Energy Secretary Hazel R.

DC Modifies Preconstruction Review

Phillip S. Cross

The District of Columbia Public Service Commission (PSC) has amended regulations governing the scope of its authority over facilities constructed outside of the municipality. Late last year, the District of Columbia Public Service Commission (PSC) issued comprehensive regulations governing the preconstruction review of utility power plants, transmission lines, cogeneration facilities, and independent power production facilities.

Williams Moves into the Northeast

Lori A. Burkhart

On December 12, the Williams Companies Inc. and Transco Energy Co. announced a cash tender offer by Williams to acquire up to 24.6 million shares, or 60 percent of Transco stock, for $17.50 per share. Combined with assumed debt and preferred shares, Williams' acquisition cost will total about $3 billion. Following completion of the tender offer, a newly formed subsidiary of Williams will be merged into Transco, with Transco continuing as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Williams. The boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction.

Maine PUC Asserts Right to Review Utility EWG Investments

Phillip S. Cross

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has rejected a settlement agreement that would have allowed Central Maine Power Co. to invest $30 million over the next three years in unspecified, unregulated power projects. The utility originally applied to create exempt wholesale generation (EWG) entities and related subsidiaries.

Cajun Files for Chapter 11

Lori A. Burkhart

Succumbing to the pressure of its debts, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has halted construction on three nuclear power plants, the only remaining incomplete plants in the nation. According to chairman Craven Crowell, TVA can no longer foot the bill alone. So far, TVA has invested about $4.6 billion in two unfinished units at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Alabama, and $1.7 billion in Watts Bar 2 in Tennessee. TVA estimates it will cost as much as $8.8 billion to finish all three units. (The Bellefonte units are 88 percent and 57 percent complete, respectively.

DSM Bidding Dispute Left to Utility

Phillip S. Cross

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) has refused to mediate a dispute between Washington Water Power Co. and a bidder in the utility's 1991-92 resource procurement auction. The bidder, SESCO Inc., complained after the utility found its demand-side management (DSM) program proposal not cost-effective. The UTC said the decision to close the bidding and not pursue a contract with SESCO was a matter for review in the utility's next general rate case.

California Revises "Blue Book" Schedule

Lori A. Burkhart and W. Lynn Garner

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued an interim decision on restructuring the California electric industry (R.94-04-031). The decision calls for the CPUC to propose a policy decision for comment on March 22, 1995, and to adopt a policy decision 60 days later. That policy decision would then become effective in September 1995. To that end, the interim decision establishes a working group to examine how existing social, economic, and environmental programs would hold up under the range of proposed restructuring models.

Arkansas Encourages Wholesale Electric Competition

Phillip S. Cross

Citing its desire to promote a fully competitive wholesale market for electric power, the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) has waived restrictions on serving wholesale and retail loads in the state for Entergy Power Inc. Entergy had proposed to sell Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. power wheeled from two generating facilities by Arkansas Power & Light Co. (AP&L), an Entergy affiliate.

Perspective

Thomas P. Weil, PhD

The meltdown of the Clinton health reform plan suggests a return to competition-that managed care, capitated payment, and regional alliances will assume leading roles in the delivery of health service. But that conclusion may prove premature. Missing from the debate is a discussion of the true costs and implications of these emerging health alliances and health management organizations (HMOs).

Managed care may not offer the expected panacea for containing health costs.

Zoning Change Raises EMF Concerns

Phillip S. Cross

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has ruled that the state commission did not err when it refused to reverse a decision by the Town of Portsmouth to rezone certain property from industrial to residential. Newport Electric Corp. had protested that the change could make it liable to EMF damage claims because of overhead power lines in the area.

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