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Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 1995

Fitch Releases Competitive Rankings Headlines

Lori A. Burkhart

Fitch Investors Service has assigned competitive rankings to 60 of the nation's largest public power and investor-owned electric utilities (IOUs). The top three IOU slots in the Fitch Competitive Indicator (FCI) go to Duke Power Co., Potomac Edison Co., and Northern States Power Co.

Power Purchase Agreement Inadequate to Justify QF

Phillip S. Cross

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that the state's Energy Facilities Siting Board could not rely on a ruling by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to determine project need as part of the construction approval process for a qualifying facility (QF). The Siting Board had found itself unable to determine the need for a 170-megawatt gas-fired cogeneration project proposed by Altresco Lynn, Inc. because it was unclear whether Massachusetts utilities would require surplus power from out-of-state suppliers before 2000.

Unchain TVA, Pleads Cromwell

Lori A. Burkhart

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) chairman Craven Crowell wants TVA to be able to compete with other utilities for customers outside its service territory. Congress established the territorial boundaries in 1959, limiting TVA and distributors of TVA power to the areas they served as of July 1 of that year. Speaking at the American Public Power Association in Washington, DC, on February 1, Crowell said he has commissioned a study by Palmer Bellevue to examine how to remove the "fence" that prevents TVA from expanding.

Discount Tariff Hits Snag

Phillip S. Cross

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has dismissed an application by Consumers Power Co. for authority to implement its controversial "Rate K" competitive tariff for electric service. The utility had claimed that greater pricing flexibility was necessary to meet substantial competition from self-generation, new municipal utilities, and utilities outside the state, but the PSC found that due to numerous objections to the rate plan and subsequent modifications of the proposal by Consumers, the proceeding had become so complex that the docket should be closed.

Niagara Mohawk gets Rate Increase

Lori A. Burkhart

Two New York Public Service Commission administrative law judges (ALJs) have recommended that Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. (NMP) be allowed to increase its 1995 electric and gas rates by $57 million (1.9 percent) and $10.7 million (1.7 percent), respectively (Docket Nos. 94-E-0098, 94-E-0099, and 94-G-0100). The proposal contrasts sharply with the PSC's 1994 recommendation to cut NMP rates by 7.1 percent over five years. NMP had asked for a 1.8-percent hike in electric rates, and a 4.2-percent increase in gas rates.

Tennessee to Review LDC Transition Costs

Phillip S. Cross

The Tennessee Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has opened a generic proceeding to establish a policy governing recovery of Order 636 pipeline transition costs by natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs). The PUC noted that one LDC, Nashville Gas Co., is currently recovering costs from all customer classes based on total system throughput, but has agreed to halve the charge for interruptible customers. Other LDCs use different methods to assess the costs to customers.

Breaking the Bulk-Power BottlenecksWallace Edward Brand

Wallace Edward Brand

By Wallace Edward BrandWallace Edward Brand practices law in his own firm in Washington, DC, where he represents small electric systems.

Wisconsin Initiates Competition Proceedings

Lori A. Burkhart

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) has moved one step closer to competition, meeting with electric utility representatives to explain the restructuring. Commissioner Scott Neitzel, who will oversee the process, plans to convene an 18-member committee, representing various interests, to recommend ways of introducing competition. Neitzel maintains that all customer classes will either benefit or be held harmless by the changes.

SEC Cost Approves Valid for FERC

Phillip S. Cross

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, following an earlier decision by the District of Columbia Circuit, has rejected claims by Ohio municipal utilities that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) erred when it allowed Ohio Power Co. to recover the full cost of coal paid to affiliated suppliers without applying a "comparable market test" to make sure the costs were reasonable.

Who Will Regulate PoolCo-the FBI?

Eugene P. Coyle

Eugene P. Coyle works as an energy analyst for Toward Utility Rate Normalization (TURN), a consumer advocacy group in California that claims 30,000 members.

t t t t t

The January mini-forum failed to discuss a key underlying assumption made by PoolCo proponents. The assumption is that price competition will really exist in tomorrow's wholesale electric market.

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