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Fortnightly Magazine - July 1 1995

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

"It could have been worse."

"It says to the market, `It won't be so bad.' It will take longer now, so that's better for the utilities."

"It creates a new bureaucratic entity that will make regulatory choices."

"It's regulated deregulation. It's alarming if that's the prototype for the nation."

That's the word, respectively, from Barry Abramson at Prudential Securities, Edward J. Tirello, Jr. of NatWest Securities, Steven Fetter at Fitch Investors Service, and Dan Scotto of Bear Stearns.

The Folly of PURPA RepealJerry R. Bloom and Joseph M. Karp

Jerry R. Bloom and Joseph M. Karp

One need only reflect upon the primary sponsors of current efforts to repeal section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) to begin to understand the folly of these efforts for the nation. The sponsors do not represent electricity ratepayers, who are claimed to be overpaying billions of dollars as a result of PURPA.

People

Philip R. Sharp, former 10-term congressman from Indiana, has been named director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Sharp assumes the position on July 1, succeeding Charles Royer, former mayor of Seattle, WA.

NICOR Inc. has elected Thomas L. Fisher, currently president and COO, to the additional position of CEO. Fisher will continue as president and CEO of Northern Illinois Gas Co., the company's largest subsidiary.

Charles W.

Executive Compensation Alerts Regulators

Phillip S. Cross

Does competition justify higher salaries for utility executives? Some regulators have suggested the opposite. Others argue that ratepayers must benefit directly from any incentives offered to utility managers.

The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) recently forced stockholders to pay a share of executive compensation costs for two utilities (em Green Mountain Power Co. and Central Vermont Public Service Corp. (em that exhibited higher-than-average executive compensation, and capped compensation for rate cases.

Mailbag

Kenneth W. Costello and Robert E. Burns

T.R. Standish's letter ("NUGs Take the Cake," May 1, 1995) in response to our article ("How State Regulators Should Handle Retail Wheeling," Feb. 15, 1995) reflects the views of those who believe that the full benefits of competition in the electric power industry do not require retail competition. Mr. Standish, in fact, believes that retail competition is bad and not inevitable. We would like to address several of his points:

Reasonable people can certainly debate the inevitability of retail competition. But unlike Mr.

Palo Verde Disallowance Upheld

Phillip S. Cross

A Texas Court of Appeals in Austin has turned back an appeal by El Paso Electric Co. (EPE) challenging a state commission ruling that disallowed rate recovery of the utility's investment in the Palo Verde Unit 3 nuclear generating plant as excess capacity. It rejected the utility's claim that use of the plant for base-load and offsystem wholesales warranted cost recovery.

The Palo Verde disallowance had come in a 1992 commission rate order.

NERC Moves Forward with EINs

Lori A. Burkhart

The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) has completed a series of workshops on what it calls "electronic information systems" (EINs). The NERC workshops were held in response to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) "Mega-NOPR" of March 29, which contemplates opening the wholesale electric industry to competition.

NGV Program Gets Rate Support in WVA

Phillip S. Cross

The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a request by the state's natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs) to extend a statewide natural gas vehicle (NGV) program first approved in 1992.

IPPs Bond Within ERCOT

Lori A. Burkhart

A new group, the Independent Power Suppliers of ERCOT (IPSE), has formed to speak for nonutility power suppliers that operate within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The stated mission of IPSE is "to promote the reliable operation of power systems within ERCOT, in which a competitive, environmentally responsible and profitable independent electric power industry can flourish." Membership is open to all nonutility generators (NUGs), cogenerators, and power marketers.

Consumers Power Must Bid for More Midland Power

Phillip S. Cross

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has warned Consumers Power Co., an electric utility, that the utility may only take more power from its affiliated Midland Cogeneration Venture (a qualifying cogeneration facility) through a competitively bid capacity solicitation.

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