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Fortnightly Magazine - December 1995

Deconstructing the Information Superhighway: A Map for Utilities

Chris S. King

Analysts may tout the coming "convergence" of communications technologies, but the real trend is "divergence."

No subject in recent memory has received as much media attention as the "Information Superhighway". But exactly what it is remains curiously unclear. The Internet? Wireless personal communications services (PCS)? Interactive fiber-optic cable to the home? The Infobahn is all of these and more.

Salem Outage Catches Moody's Eye

Lori A. Burkhart

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has imposed a $600,000 civil penalty on Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) for six violations at the Salem Nuclear Generating Station. PSE&G, which owns and operates 42.59 percent of the plant, responded by shutting Salem down temporarily.

"We take no issue with the concerns raised by the NRC," says Leon R. Eliason, PSE&G chief nuclear officer and president of its nuclear business.

Today's Data is Tomorrow's Service

Rob Neilson

Better use of existing data is the key to enhanced revenue.

Utility automation seeks to reduce operational costs and deliver new value-added services.

The first goal is straightforward and quantifiable. For example, when Public Service Co.

FERC Urges Flexibility on Natural Gas Decontracting

Lori A. Burkhart

A new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order in the restructuring proceeding for Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America (NGP) suggests how the Commission will handle evolving issues in natural gas decontracting (Docket Nos. RP95-326-000).

NGP had asked to implement its compliance rates for new services in conjunction with a deferred-cost mechanism, allowing it to defer collection of revenue shortfall it allegedly would experience under those rates.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

John Anderson is jumping out of his shoes. And his socks, too. His group, the Electricity Consumers Resource Council (ELCON, where Anderson serves as executive director) may at last get its way.During a few weeks in October, a good half-dozen energy industry players (em including utilities and regulators (em came out in favor of customer choice for electric and gas service.

FERC Upholds N.J. QF Procedures

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has denied a Jersey Central Power & Light Co. (JCPL) request that it invalidate the procedures used by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to implement the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) (Docket No. EL95-36-000).

JCPL claimed that state procedures required it to enter into a purchase agreement with a qualifying facility, Freehold Cogeneration Associates, L.P., for 100 megawatts of power at rates that exceeded JCPL's avoided cost at the time of contract execution and approval.

People

Entergy Corp. has hired John A. Brayman, former president of Ameritech Corp.'s telephone industry services subsidiary in Chicago. Brayman will continue company expansion into nonregulated, domestic energy, and utility-related business as executive v.p. of Entergy Enterprises, Inc. and president of an as-yet unnamed group.J. William Holden was named Southern Electric International's v.p. for operations and development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

GE Supply, a General Electric division, promoted William C. Betke to g.m.

Financial News

Leonard S. Hyman

At Addison Mizner's pink fantasy on a Spanish theme, the Boca Raton Resort, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) waited for Godot. Yes, that was the theme of EEI's 30th financial conference, and its first plunge into literature. You may remember the play, in which two hobos talk endlessly while waiting for the mysterious Godot, who has not yet arrived by the final curtain. In the same way, electric utilities and those who invest in them have been awaiting the advent of restructuring, the California remake of the industry, retail wheeling somewhere, and the wipeout of stranded assets.

Mailbag

Low Loads, Short Ride

Kevin O'Donnell's article "Aggregating Municipal Loads: The Future is Today" (Oct. 1, 1995) argues that residential and small commercial low-load-factor customers will do well in a competitive environment. Yes, I agree that the future for these customers is definitely today. Low-load customers will do much better in the short run. As long as excess capacity exists, sellers will price at little more than short-run marginal cost. Once excess capacity dries up, however, fixed costs will have to be paid.

Mass. OK's Stranded-cost Charge for Self-generators

Phillip S. Cross

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has ruled that Cambridge Electric Co. may recover stranded costs from customers that switch to self-generation. The DPU made the ruling while reviewing a "Customer Transition Charge" (CTC) filed as part of the utility's tariff for services in connection with the operation of a cogeneration qualifying facility (QF) by one of its large customers, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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