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Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1995

Illinois Joins Reform Movement

Lori A. Burkhart

The Illinois legislature has established a committee to study reforming the electric utility industry in Illinois through competition. The Joint Committee on Electric Utility Reform will be guided by Energy Choice 2000, a proposal that would allow utilities to compete for large customers as of 2000. The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) would have the power to let residential and small commercial customers to select their supplier by 2006. The proposal was developed by the Coalition for Consumer Choice, which comprises various Illinois businesses as well as Illinois Power.

Court sides with QF on Avoided Costs

Phillip S. Cross

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has overturned a decision by state regulators that would have allowed Commonwealth Electric Co.

Iowa PURPA Law Comes Under Firet

Lori A. Burkhart

Midwest Power Systems Inc. (MPS) has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to void the Iowa law requiring Iowa utilities to pay six cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity generated by qualifying facilities (QFs). MPS

argues that the Iowa price is more than twice what federal law imposes under a market-based rate. MPS and the three other investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in Iowa had asked the state legislature earlier this year to make the Iowa law conform to federal law, but the bill was not passed.

Court Upholds FERC's PBOP Ruling

Phillip S. Cross

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has upheld a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission policy allowing utilities to recover costs to switch from cash to accrualaccounting for post-retirement benefits other than pensions (PBOP) under SFAS 106.

Otter Tail Pushes PMA Privatization Pilo

Lori A. Burkhart

Otter Tail Power Co. (OTP) has asked to manage the operations and marketing activities of the Billings Marketing Area of the Western Area Power Administration's (WAPA) Eastern Pick-Sloan system (a multistate region). According to OTP president John MacFarlane, the proposal aims to smooth the transition to privatization.

Georgia Sets Rules on Price-cap Requests

Phillip S. Cross

The Georgia Public Service Commission has completed the first step required to implement the state's Telecommunications and Competition Development Act of 1995 (which mandates changes in telephone regulation) by issuing rules for local exchange carriers seeking to abandon traditional rate regulation in favor of alternative performance-based rate plans, including price caps. It issued separate filing requirements to obtain certificates for competitive local exchange service (also permitted under the new state law).

The ABCs of PBR

Peter Navarro

In the alphabet soup of regulatory acronyms, performance-based ratemaking (PBR) may help shape events well into the next century. At present, PBR is being implemented, or considered by, public utility commissions (PUCs) in over 20 states. By 2000, PBR is likely to reach most of the 50 states as well as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The pressures of a global economy have raised the stakes.

Perspective

Cody L. Graves

Recently I had the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee on Energy Production and Regulation of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on legislation that would repeal the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). During the course of the hearing, Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) made a comment that framed perfectly the

federal-state tensions currently affecting energy regulatory policy in America.

Sen.

NYNEX Gets Price Cap

Phillip S. Cross

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has completed a long-awaited rate plan for New England Telephone and Telegraph Co. (dba NYNEX), adopting price-cap regulation without earnings sharing, but with strong measures to protect ratepayers from monopoly pricing, investment risk, and subsidies of utility ventures. The plan also includes price floors and separates competitive and monopoly services for pricing purposes. The DPU also approved a rate freeze for basic residential service until 2001, but rejected a claim that rates should fall during that time.

Incentive Ratemaking in Illinois: The Transition to Competitive Markets

Agustin J. Ros and Terry S. Harvill

For the past several decades, utility regulation at the state level dealt with secure local markets and truly captive customers. A regulatory compact flourished that offered reasonable prices to customers, while guaranteeing the monopolist the opportunity to earn a fair rate of return on prudently incurred investments.

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