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Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 1995

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.

FERC Creates Companion to NOPR

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a companion order to its open-access Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Docket No. ER93-540-003). The new order offers guidelines for presiding judges and participants in pending open-access cases that concern public utilities' offers of nondiscriminatory services.

RTGs Make Progress

Lori A. Burkhart

The Southwest Regional Transmission Association (SWRTA) has filed amended bylaws with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), incorporating two FERC conditions: 1) comparable transmission service, and 2) a single regional transmission plan. To achieve comparability, each transmitting member subject to FERC jurisdiction under sections 205 and 206 of the Federal Power Act will file comparable transmission service tariffs with the FERC.

Global Power Projects: Evaluating Market Potential

Robert C. McFarlane

The Geneva summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War. With a diminished threat of East-West confrontation, countries throughout the world gradually reoriented their priorities (em away from politico-military security and toward economic development. To paraphrase Woodrow Wilson, the end of the Cold War had made the world "safe for capitalism."Now, 10 years later, with a few notable exceptions in the Balkans and elsewhere, evidence abounds to support that appraisal, from Argentina to Prague to Manila.

Financial News

Charles M. Studness

Traditional utility regulation has been unable to prevent the electric rates of some utilities from rising far above those of neighboring companies. Two factors are responsible for this failure. First, regulators lack the means to keep seemingly reasonable but unnecessary costs from creeping into rates. Second, ratemaking considers a utility's costs in isolation and does not use peer benchmarks to true up rates.

Political pressure helped limit rate increases for nuclear plants during the 1980s.

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