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Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1996

Just in Time: EDI for Gas Nominations

Greg M. Lander

To listen to some, EDI stands for "Everybody's Doing It." But there's more to it than that. The natural gas market is not simply about electronic bulletin boards (EBBs) or electronic data interchange (EDI), which reconciles potentially inconsistent data, protocols, and trading customs among pipelines, shippers, distributors, and end users. Instead, it should be about solutions (em solutions that work across regions, across enterprises.

EDI is tough.

Financial News

Charles M. Studness

Recovery of stranded investment is clearly the central point of contention in the debate over utility competition. Customers oppose competition and utilities favor it (em for what appear to be clear-cut reasons. Recovery would delay the benefits of competition for customers, but would give utilities additional cash and temporary protection against competitive price pressures. The battle has unfortunately turned into a morality play that centers on the right to recover stranded investment.

Price Risk Management: Electric Power vs. Natural Gas

Judah Rosa, and Charles Mann

The deregulated power market will feature large numbers of buyers and sellers. Buyers will worry that prices will rise unexpectedly above current levels; sellers will worry that prices will fall unexpectedly. Some will be interested in fixed-price forward deals that protect them from these risks.

Evolving FERC Merger Policy Delays "Altus" Deal

Lori A. Burkhart

It appears that The Washington Water Power Co. (WWP) and Sierra Pacific Power Co. (SPP), which were hoping for a quick OK on their proposed merger to form "Altus," may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of a perfunctory approval, the WWP/SPP merger now may become the test case for evolving merger policy at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Perhaps the utilities should have seen it coming. In approving the Midwest Power Systems, Inc./Iowa-Illinois Gas & Electric Co. merger, FERC Commissioners William L.

Saying "No" to Municipalization

James S. Lanard, and Glenn O. Steiger

On November 7, 1995, voters in Aberdeen, NJ, went to the polls to elect local and state officials. Also on the ballot were public questions (em including one asking Aberdeen residents whether the township should build or acquire electric transmission and distribution facilities. Eighty-six percent of the voters nixed the idea. What follows is a case study of how the issue got on the ballot and how the local utility defeated the effort. The story reveals what it takes to defeat a municipalization drive: support from municipal government, the public, and your union.

The Superiority of Spot Yields in Estimating Cost of Capital

Steven G. Kihm

Financial experts often depart from standard financial principles and practices in recommending the appropriate rate of return for public utilities. But ratemaking draws from many fields, not just finance; there may be good reasons for some alterations. In other cases, however, analysts are unaware of violating principles. This article discusses the tendency of some analysts to use historic averages of certain financial variables, as opposed to current spot values, in

return-on-equity (ROE) analyses.

Looking for a Market Rate

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

Looking for a Market Rate:

Anchor Glass Tries to Shake JCP&L Stranglehold

By Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

Why assume that a city or town

can't run a power plant?

It wasn't a demand for a $2-million rate cut. It was a request for a rate in line with neighboring New Jersey utilities.

That's how Walter J.

States Consider Employee Compensation Costs

Phillip S. Cross

While authorizing Providence Gas Co., a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), to raise its rates by a total of $3.99 million, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) reduced the LDC's proposed expense allowance for executive incentive compensation by 60 percent, to match the portion of a performance incentive award designed to reward shareholders. The PUC said that 40 percent of the

performance-based awards under the company's executive incentive payment rules were based on criteria related to cost of gas and operations and maintenance expense.

Transmission or Distribution? Reengineering Cost-of-Service Studies for the Emerging Competitive Market

John S. Ferguson

Why will cost-of-service studies continue to prove useful in a competitive market?

Cost is one of more than a dozen factors to consider in setting prices, whether in a regulated environment or a competitive regime. However, the relative significance of these factors will change under competition, when understanding the true cost of an individual service will actually become more important than under regulation.

El Paso Neutralizes Threat from Defense Dept.

Phillip S. Cross

Faced with the possibility that existing contracts to provide electric service to Holloman Air Force Base and the White Sands Missile Range would lapse if the two facilities carry out plans to solicit competitive bids for their power-supply requirements, El Paso Electric Co. has convinced both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force to continue taking service in the traditional way for an extended period of time.

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