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Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1995

Court Upholds Storage Cask Licensing

W. Lynn Garner

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) acted properly in licensing the use of ventilated, dry storage casks for spent nuclear fuel at Consumer Power Co.'s Palisades nuclear plant. Despite challenges from public interest groups and the attorney general of Michigan, the court found adequate input from the public in the NRC licensing process, which is used for all reactor sites nationwide. Michael G.

Alternative Regulation Plan Loweers Rates for LEC

Phillip S. Cross

The Tennessee Public Service Commission (PSC) has finalized an $8.7-million rate reduction for United Telephone-Southeast, Inc. under an alternative regulation plan in place since 1991. The rate reduction is the first under the plan's three-year earnings review procedures.

Gas on the Rise in 1995

W. Lynn Garner

The American Gas Association

(A.G.A.) forecasts a 3.4-percent increase in natural gas use for 1995, to 22.5 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) from 21.7 quads in 1994. "Such an increase would continue an eight-year trend that has seen natural gas consumption rise nearly 30 percent since 1986," Michael Baly, A.G.A. president, noted in a presentation to New York securities analysts.

Ohio Modifies LDC Curtailment Regulations

Phillip S. Cross

The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has modified its natural gas transportation guidelines for local distribution companies (LDCs) to reflect changes in the industry under FERC Order 636. The PUC said its revisions would give customers a clearer understanding of service rights and curtailment procedures under the restructuring, and reflected the fundamental principle that each gas service must be offered on a comparable basis (em whether provided under bundled or unbundled tariffs.

Perspective

Richard Nemec

Time was that operating changes drove communications changes, and employee acceptance was a given. The changes now permeating the utility industry, however, require us to think, and operate, differently. Operating and communications changes need to unfold simultaneously. If communications is constantly playing catch up to changing operations, employees begin to lose motivation and effectiveness. Eventually, customers notice and begin to complain.

Hawaii Oks PBOP Recovery

Phillip S. Cross

After considering the matter in several proceedings since 1991, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has decided to permit the state's utilities to include in rates the full cost of switching from cash to accrual accounting for post-retirement benefits other than pensions (PBOPs) under SFAS 106. The PUC rejected proposals to require the utilities to alter certain SFAS 106 financial reporting requirements (em for example, extending the amortization period for recovery of PBOP transition costs from 20 to 40 years.

Company Profile

W. Lynn Garner

When a steel mill threatened to pull out of New Jersey and move to the Southeast where electricity rates are cheaper, Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (PSE&G) did some creative thinking.

How could it keep the mill, Co-Steel Raritan, and its 500 jobs and $36-million annual payroll in Perth Amboy, NJ?

After considerable negotiation, PSE&G proposed an experimental hourly pricing plan that lets Co-Steel Raritan take advantage of the lowest fuel costs within the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland (PJM) pool.

Federal Preemption Blocks Municipal Condemnation

Phillip S. Cross

A U.S. District Court (Eastern District, Oklahoma) has ruled that the City of Stilwell's attempted condemnation of Ozark Electric Cooperative facilities and customers within an annexed area of the city's corporate boundaries was preempted under federal law. The court found that allowing the city to "skim the cream" of the co-op's service area would frustrate the Rural Electrification Act's (REAct's) objective of providing reliable and affordable electric service to rural America.

"Comparability" Breeds Contention

Lori A. Burkhart

The pending merger of El Paso Electric Co. (EPE) and Central and South West Services, Inc. (CSW) keeps going and going and going. But the issue of "comparability" has yet to be left in the dust. And so another landmark case looms large, giving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) another opportunity to shape future wheeling and merger transactions.

Senate Seeks to Open Telecom

Lori A. Burkhart

Republican members of the Senate Commerce Committee have released an outline of draft telecommunications legislation that would remove all state or local barriers to entry for telecommunications service. The legislation would allow any regional Bell operating company (RBOC) to apply to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer interexchange services (em subject to generic safeguards, such as a separate subsidiary requirement. If the FCC certifies that interconnection/opening requirements have been satisfied, the RBOC request must be granted.

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