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Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 1995

Beleaguered Columbia Gas Settles, Waits

Lori A. Burkhart

The Columbia Gas System, Inc. (CGS) has reached an agreement, in principle, resolving the class action lawsuits alleging securities law violations following CGS's June 1991 major charge against earnings and the suspension of its common stock dividend. Those lawsuits were filed against CGS, certain officers and directors, the company's independent public accountants, and the underwriters for the company's 1990 common stock offering. The CGS portion of the proposed $36.5-million settlement would be $16.5 million. The remainder would be shared among the other defendants.

Canadian Regulators Move to Unbundle Gas Rates

Phillip S. Cross

After reviewing gas supply and related matters as part of a general rate case for Centra Gas Ontario, Inc., the Ontario Energy Board has directed its technical staff to develop a mechanism to separate the utility's commodity sales from its transportation and distribution functions. The Board said the move was necessary because competition in the sale of natural gas and the introduction of indexed pricing had made regulation of the utility's existing tariffed services difficult.

USEC Privatization Moves Forward

Lori A. Burkhart

The United States Enrichment Corp. (USEC), the world's largest producer of uranium enrichment services, has submitted its privatization plan to President Clinton and Congress. The plan, mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 1992, suggests that USEC be sold to the private sector early in 1996 under a dual approach that simultaneously pursues a public offering of common stock and a negotiated merger or acquisition by a third party.

N.C. Expands Self-generation Deferral Rates

Phillip S. Cross

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (UC) has approved a North Carolina Power Co. plan to use its special self-generation deferral rate to persuade a large industrial customer to use utility supply for a planned plant expansion rather than existing self generation facilities. The UC rejected allegations that the discount to the Weyerhauser paper plant in Plymouth, NC, must pass a stricter analysis than past cases involving rate discounting guidelines because it applies to new load.

Perspective

Jim Huston

Suddenly, the U.K. electric industry holds more than academic interest for U.S. utilities. Up to now, it did not appear that many American utility executives had studied the British privatization. But the ongoing attempt at takeover of the U.K.'s South Western Electricity (SWE) by its American counterpart, The Southern Co., ups the ante considerably. If it comes to pass, Southern's acquisition of SWE will tap directly into the U.K.

N.C. Reviews QF Avoided-cost Rates

Phillip S. Cross

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (UC) has completed its latest biennial proceeding to establish rates and contract terms for utility power purchases from qualifying facilities (QFs).

NHA Asks for Relicensing Reform

Lori A. Burkhart

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reform its regulations governing the relicensing of hydroelectric projects. No legislation would be involved.

N.C. Defers Retail Wheeling

Phillip S. Cross

Finding the state's electric regulation in excellent condition, and noting a slowdown in the movement toward retail wheeling in other states, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (UC) has decided against ruling on the issue at this time. It rejected calls to open a formal "adversarial" proceeding to investigate issues associated with retail wheeling or retail generation competition.

FERC Asks AEP to Justify Rate Differential

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has agreed to set a hearing on the reasonableness of American Electric Power Co.'s (AEP) nonfirm, offpeak hourly rate for electric transmission service (Docket No. EL95-4-000).Commonwealth Edison Co. (CE) has alleged that Indiana Michigan Power Co., an AEP operating company, overcharges for hourly, nonfirm transmission services provided during offpeak hours.

FERC Passes on Trojan Contract Dispute

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has allowed an Oregon state court jurisdiction over a contract dispute between Portland General Electric Co. (PGE) and Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) (Docket No. EL94-92-000).In 1987, the FERC accepted a contract for PGE to sell SCE long-term system power and for a mutual exchange of capacity and energy. In 1994, SCE filed a complaint in Oregon state court, alleging that PGE had defaulted on the contract by closing the Trojan nuclear plant. SCE argued that its continued performance under the contract was excused.

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