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Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1995

Mass. IPP Asks Buyers for Interest

BY LORI A. BURKHART


MASS. IPP ASKS BUYERS FOR INTEREST

OCTOBER 01, 1995

BY LORI A. BURKHART

LDC to Revamp Supply Costs Accounting

Phillip S. Cross

In a case involving automatic adjustment clause procedures for state utilities, the Minnesota Public Service Commission (PSC) has directed Northern States Power Co. to make major modifications to its accounting system for gas costs. While approving a requested variance of its adjustment clause rules to allow the utility to recover a $1.05 million undercollection in its gas cost true-up rate, the PSC found the error due to the complexity of accounting for gas sales.

NYMEX, EnerSoft Team Up on New Gas Trading System

Lori A. Burkhart

The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and EnerSoft Corp., a New York State Electric & Gas subsidiary, have launched Channel 4, the only electronic bulletin board (EBB) that allows companies to trade natural gas and pipeline capacity in the United States and Canada via a single system. Channel 4 is also the only system connected to over 40 pipelines, which it sweeps for information.

LDC Settles Gas Pipeline Safety Case

Phillip S. Cross

The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a settlement agreement in a case involving a safety code investigation of Columbia Gas of Ohio, Inc., a natural gas local distribution company. The PUC had directed its staff to investigate whether Columbia Gas had violated safety code provisions governing maximum allowable operating pressures for pipeline segments.

Moody's Frowns at Stranded Costs

Lori A. Burkhart

A recent report by Moody's Investors Service, Stranded Costs Will Threaten Credit Quality of U.S. Electrics, estimates total stranded costs for

investor-owned electrics at $50 to $300 billion, depending on market-price assumptions. The most likely scenario would produce about $135 billion in stranded costs, compared to present total industry equity of about $165 billion and total assets of $570 billion.

Conn. Updates Gas Regulation

Phillip S. Cross

The Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) has adopted new cost-of-service guidelines allowing natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs) to develop unbundled rate structures, including cost-based firm transportation rates. The DPUC also issued suggestions for refining existing supply and demand forecasting methods. According to the DPUC, current cost-of-service studies did not adequately address interclass subsidies at existing rate levels.

Perspective

Donald F. Santa, Jr.

For almost a decade now, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has pursued the goal of promoting competition in bulk-power markets, focusing on access to transmission as its primary tool to achieve that end. This trend first emerged in the 1987 PacifiCorp merger case. It gained momentum with the strong message sent by the Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct).

Fla. Updates Water ROEs

Phillip S. Cross

In a preliminary ruling, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has proposed several changes to its rules for setting a generic rate of return on common equity (ROE) for water utilities. The proposed leverage formula produces a suggested ROE range of 10.18 to 11.88 percent, based on an equity ratio of 40 percent. The change represents an increase of 55 basis points over the midpoint indicated by the existing formula. According to the PSC, the update incorporates changes in underlying market conditions, including bond yields and required rates of return.

Gas Wary of Electric IRP/DSM

Lori A. Burkhart

The American Gas Association (A.G.A.) has issued A Strategic Guide to IRP and DSM for Natural Gas Companies, prepared by Hampton Strategies, Inc. Because the evolution of IRP and DSM initiatives for electric and gas companies will be greatly affected by increased competition, the report contends, natural gas companies need to be familiar with issues and practices surrounding DSM cost recovery and profitability incentives.

Montana and Iowa Reject EPAct Section 115

Phillip S. Cross

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) has decided not to adopt federal standards for natural gas integrated resource planning (IRP) and demand-side management (DSM) contained in section 115 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct), concluding that current information did not support establishing formal standards in those areas. The PSC explained that the expected costs of future commission involvement in the matter outweigh the benefits that might reasonably be expected at this time. Re Section 115, Energy Policy Act of 1992, Order No. 5861, Docket No. 94.9.42, Aug.

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