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Fortnightly Magazine - May 1 1995


NUGs Take the Cake

I take great exception to the presumption of Messrs. Costello, Burns, and Hegazy ("How State Regulators Should Handle Retail Wheeling," Feb. 15, 1995) that retail wheeling's "day will come." This is the oft repeated but never proven siren's song of Elcon's John Anderson and the other industrial/ cogeneration groups. The authors write: "For retail wheeling to become politically palatable, legislatures and PUCs must address the question of how to minimize the negative effects on core customers in the short term." Why?

Financial News

Charles M. Studness

The financial community's focus on utility competition has been riveted on the proceedings now in progress at state regulatory commissions. The fear that something immediately damaging will come out of these proceedings seems to have diminished in recent months, and the stock market has reacted favorably. However, regulatory developments are only one of four paths leading to competition; the others are the marketplace, the legislatures, and the courts.

FERC Vindicates New York IPP Contracts

Lori A. Burkhart

When the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reform the contract prices of two independent power producers (IPPs), Lockport Energy Associates, L.P. and Saranac Power Partners, L.P., the move triggered a call to arms from the Independent Power Producers of New York, Inc. (IPPNY). And in the pitched battle that followed, IPPNY did indeed emerge victorious. The IPPs sell electricity to New York State Electric and Gas Co.

NGVs -- Are Ratepayer Subsidies Appropriate?

Phillip S. Cross

According to the Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition (em a national organization of local natural gas distributors, pipelines, and equipment manufacturers promoting natural gas vehicles (NGVs) (em the U.S. government supports our country's continued reliance on petroleum-based fuels for transportation through billions in subsidies and tax incentives.

Virginia Power Fights Muni Flight

Lori A. Burkhart

Virginia Power (VP) has asked the Virginia Corporation Commission to prevent a municipality, the City of Falls Church, from ousting VP as the provider of electric service (Case No. PUE9500). VP says the city notified the utility that it intended to establish either a municipal purchasing or marketing entity or an electric utility that would own or control enough transmission or distribution facilities to avoid the "sham wholesale transaction" prohibition of the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

PSC Washes Hands of QF Contract Dispute

Phillip S. Cross

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has refused to settle a dispute between Florida Power Corp., an electric utility, and numerous qualified cogenerating facilities (QFs) over pricing terms contained in negotiated purchased-power agreements previously approved as cost-effective. The PSC ruled that interpretation of provisions in negotiated, as opposed to approved standard-offer, contracts between utilities and QFs was a matter for the courts and rejected allegations that review and approval gave the PSC continuing jurisdiction to interpret the contracts.

LEC Competition Gains Ground in Texas

Lori A. Burkhart

Rep. Curtis Seidlits, Jr. (D) has filed a 245-page telecommunications bill, H.B. 2128, in the Texas legislature. The bill seeks to move regulated local exchange carriers (LECs) to a more competitive arena. It also addresses issues such as infrastructure improvements, telemedicine, and the information highway. H.R. 2128 culminates two years of study by the Joint Interim Committee (House and Senate members) on Telecommunications on how to reform the way Texas telephone companies are regulated.

Interruptible Tariffs Labeled Burden

Phillip S. Cross

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has approved tariff revisions proposed by Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. (PP&L), an electric utility, to limit the availability of its interruptible services. The PUC also directed PP&L to file new interruptible rates at its next rate case, based on the cost of providing such service and on the value to the utility of maintaining its interruptible load.

Wisconsin Gas Customers May Get to Choose

Lori A. Burkhart

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) has initiated a proceeding to pursue development of a market-based approach to natural gas regulation (Docket No. 05-GI-108). A public hearing has been set for May 16. The PSC's goal is to remove barriers to competition and permit customers to choose their natural gas service. Under the model, the PSC would stop regulating a utility's natural gas costs when it finds that a competitive market has developed for a given class of service.

IntraLATA Dialing Parity Spreading

Phillip S. Cross

To further competition in the state's telephone industry, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has decided to require local exchange telephone carriers (LECs) to offer intraLATA presubscription as part of the access services provided for competitors in the toll-call market. It found the lack of "1+" dialing parity (experienced by customers who choose interexchange carriers (IXCs) rather than LECs for intraLATA toll calling) a competitive barrier that could be removed without diminshing access to basic telephone service for Florida consumers.