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Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1996

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.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

As I began to write this column, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was slated in less than 30 minutes (this time, for real) to unveil its final proposed plan to restructure the electric utility industry. After the deed was done, on Wednesday, December 20, I logged on to ftp.cpuc.ca.gov and downloaded the text of the two opinions, issued by California commissioners Daniel Fessler and Jessie Knight.

CPUC to Review SCE Plans to Divest DSM Assets

Phillip S. Cross

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has asserted jurisdiction over a controversial proposal by Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) to transfer personnel and assets from an existing ratepayer-funded energy-efficiency program to an unregulated affiliate.

People

Robert W. Foy replaced Charles H. "Bud" Stump as chairman of California Water Services Co. Stump, who has been with the company 45 years, will remain on the board. Foy, president and CEO of Pacific Storage Co., has been a CWS director since 1977.

The Gas Research Institute board of directors elected Christine A. Hansen and Stanley C. Horton as new members. Hansen, executive director of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, joins GRI as an at-large director.

Court Faults Commission on Rate Restructuring

Phillip S. Cross

The Appellate Court of Illinois (First District) has ruled that the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) failed to properly consider the effect on consumers when it approved a rate restructuring plan for Central Telephone Co. of Illinois, a telecommunications local exchange carrier (LEC). An ICC order from a base-rate proceeding had permitted the LEC to eliminate most of its flat-rate calling plans and replace them with usage-sensitive service offerings. The order also permitted a general shift of costs away from business users and onto the residential customer class.

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