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Fortnightly Magazine - April 15 1995

Mailbag

In his article, "The Flawed Case for Stranded Cost Recovery" (Feb. 1, 1995), Charles Studness made many good points. Yet he omitted to mention one critical factor that influenced several utilities in the late 1970s to go ahead with new coal and nuclear capacity: the Carter Administration's 1978 Fuel Use Act, mandating that utilities cease burning natural gas by 1989.

For many companies operating in the south central United States, this requirement meant conversion or replacement of most existing capacity.

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.

Trends

Kent Knutson

Average generation costs for the nation's electric utilities fell in 1994, primarily due to reductions in delivered fuel prices. Production costs declined by 3.5 percent, averaging just $1.89 per kilowatt-hour (Kwh) by year's end.

The WSCC is the only NERC (North American Electric Reliability) region where production cost increased (em 2.6 percent in 1994 (em as reduced hydro output in California was replaced by more costly natural gas-fired generation.

Florida Expands Telephone Access

Phillip S. Cross

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has decided to expand interconnection for telecommunications switched-access service by requiring local exchange carriers (LECs) to offer virtual collocation services upon request. The PSC approved pricing flexibility in the form of zone density pricing for the new collocation tariffs.

PacifiCorp Seeks a Home on the Range

Lori A. Burkhart

There's a new gunslinger in town, and it's heavyweight PacifiCorp. The Pacific Northwest utility is opening a marketing office in Las Vegas to gain access to large customers that may come up for grabs if retail wheeling comes to Nevada and Southern California.

ComEd Plants Win Rate Base Treatment

Phillip S. Cross

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has approved a $303.2-million rate increase for Commonwealth Edison Co. In approving a rate of return on equity (ROE) allowance of 12.28 percent, the ICC chose an ROE presentation that "equally weighs the quarterly DCF and risk-premium based results." The increase reflects the ICC's finding that the company's Byron 2 and Braidwood 1 & 2 nuclear generating facilities are fully used and useful and eligible for rate recovery.

Virginia Power Wins Dispute with IPP

W. Lynn Garner

Virginia Power emerged the winner in a lawsuit filed by an independent power producer (IPP), Doswell Limited Partnership, involving payments for wholesale electricity. The disputed payments total more than $100 million over a 25-year contract. Doswell owns a large nonutility power plant north of Richmond, VA, with a capacity of 726 megawatts, and sells electricity to Virginia Power. A portion of the IPP contract is based on a fixed

fuel-transportation charge for natural gas supplies.

N.J. Utilities Must Market Test Power Proposals

Phillip S. Cross

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has announced an interim policy requiring electric utilities to "market test" all proposals for new capacity additions. The requirement grew out of a highly contentious proceeding involving a failed proposal by Jersey Central Power & Light Co. to purchase an interest in generating facilities from Duquesne Power & Light Co. in Pennsylvania and to construct major transmission facilities.

Consumers Power Targets "At-Risk" Customers

W. Lynn Garner

Consumers Power Co. has asked the Michigan Public Service Commission to approve a Special Competitive Service (SCS) rate to help retain industrial customers who threaten to leave the system. The SCS rate would be offered to customers who can obtain their power elsewhere and to new customers considering locating or expanding facilities in Michigan. "[A]pproval of this rate would grant Consumers Power the ability to negotiate special contracts with certain `at risk' large industrial customers which have competitive energy supply options," says Michael G.

Muni Competition Gets Utility Discount

Phillip S. Cross

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has approved special discount rate tariffs to help Illinois Power Co., an electric utility, meet ongoing competition from municipal electric utilities within its service territory.

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