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Fortnightly Magazine - April 1 1995

Natural Gas Pipelines: Roadmap to Reform

Frank A. Felder and Scott T. Jones

Gas pipeline reform is looming on the horizon like the stealth bomber. It faded from view a couple years ago, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) completed Order 636 and turned to electric issues. Yet gas reforms are more pressing: They began earlier, their direction is clearer, and their completion is closer at hand. In fact, without a more price-responsive market for gas transportation, we cannot fashion an efficient and integrated energy industry.

Dam Removal Policy Carved in Stone

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has refused to reconsider its December 14, 1994, policy statement on hydroelectric plant decommissioning. That policy upholds the FERC's authority to deny new project licenses when existing licenses expire and to order owners to remove a dam during the relicensing process (Docket Nos. RM93-23-000, RM93-23-001). Commissioner James J.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

As a student of utility regulation, you will of course know the difference between the Ninth and the Tenth Amendments. If not, let's reiterate.

The Ninth permits everything that is not prohibited. The Tenth prohibits everything not otherwise permitted. The one governs the People; the other governs the Government. That's all there is. Now imagine standing on both feet behind a podium, in front of a luncheon crowd of about 100 think-tank types, and holding an audience spellbound for over an hour as you expound upon this noble topic.

Financial News

W. Lynn Garner

There is a price to pay for becoming a lean, mean fighting machine, and utilities paid the price in 1994.

A number of electric utilities saw revenues increase last year on the strength of higher sales, but the costs associated with laying off hundreds of employees and downsizing company operations took a significant bite out of earnings.

A PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY survey of the nation's top 20 electric utilities shows an increase in their combined 1994 revenues to $107 billion, a healthy 3.6-percent rise over the previous year.

People

The Southern Company named A.W. (Bill) Dahlberg chairman and CEO in addition to his current duties as president. He succeeds Edward L. Addison, 65, who is retiring after 12 years as CEO and more than 40 years with the company. Dahlberg, 54, served as president since January 1, 1994. He began his career with The Southern Company at age 19 when he joined Georgia Power, a subsidiary, as a meter installer.

Ralph Johnson was named v.p., power resources, for the Texas-New Mexico Power Co.

Gas Customers Pay the Price

Phillip S. Cross

Who will pay the costs incurred by regulated utility companies as they shift to competitive markets under plans engineered at the federal and state levels? This question is part of the debate over electric industry restructuring, but any payments lie in the future. For ratepayers in the gas market, however, the time has come. So far, state regulators have interpreted the law as prohibiting any sharing of gas market "transition" costs between shareholders and ratepayers.

Mailbag

In his article "Making Hydro Sustainable" (Jan. 1, 1995), Thomas Russo forgets an important consideration in any large-scale engineering project: the social impact. The construction and commissioning of large-scale hydroelectric generating facilities have always required large capital investments and produced widespread impacts on the ecosystem. These impacts have generally been fairly obvious and carefully examined.

N.C. Requires Telecom Certification for Electric Utilities

Phillip S. Cross

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has ruled that electric utilities who plan to market excess capacity via their own fiber-optic telecommunications facilities must either obtain certification as an interexchange telecommunications carrier or form a separate subsidiary that obtains such certification. The NCUC noted that interexchange certification was sufficient because competitive local exchange service was not currently authorized in the state.

Mailbag

An article by Renz Jennings et al. (Jan. 15, 1995), "DSM Programs Must Target Consumers, Not Just Technology," unintentionally implies that information from the national Database on Energy Efficiency Programs (DEEP) project "is not always available to the program analysts involved in designing, implementing, and evaluating programs conducted by their own organization." Nothing could be further from the truth.

Michigan Defers Approval of Antibypass Contract

Phillip S. Cross

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has rejected a request for expedited approval of a special contract between Consumers Power Co. and a natural gas transportation customer, the James River Corp. Consumers Power negotiated the contract when it learned that James River could bypass the local gas distribution system through a direct connection with a nearby pipeline operated by Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Corp. The utility claimed that James River could rescind the contract and arrange for bypass service if approval was not obtained by February 3, 1995.

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