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Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1996

The Power Exchange: California Goes Competitive

Alex Henney

Nearly three years on from the Yellow Book,1 after many long hours and thousands (em if not millions (em of pages, and following much bitter debate (linked with some murky politics), the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) by a 3-2 majority has at last published an Order2 to introduce competition for retail customers.

The decision contains four main proposals:

s market structure

s access for custo

Colorado Revamps DSM Inquiry

Phillip S. Cross

The Colorado Public Service Commission (PSC) has renewed its commitment to rate recovery of costs associated with utility-sponsored demand-side management (DSM) programs. At the same time, however, it has formally rejected a series of broader-based rate reforms under development since 1991. The rulings came in a case involving the Public Service Co. of Colorado, an electric utility. The PSC found a "ubiquitous lack of support" for mechanisms to encourage utility conservation investments that could reduce total system costs, but might also reduce sales levels.

Playing the Pool: Can Everybody Win?

Robert D. Grow

As electric restructuring spreads around the nation and the world, the idea of a "PoolCo" spot market (pool) gains credence. Pools already exist in England, Australia, Norway, Alberta, and Argentina. On December 20,1 the California Public Utilities Commission formally proposed a pool, called the California Power Exchange, to begin operation as of January 1, 1998.

DSM Gets Expensed in North Dakota

Phillip S. Cross

The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a request by Northern States Power Co., an electric utility, to treat all of its demand-side management (DSM) expenditures as expenses rather than capitalizing them. The PSC found that the change would strengthen the company's financial and competitive positions as it initiates its transition to a restructured electric industry.

In a 1992 rate order the PSC directed the utility to capitalize a substantial portion of the DSM costs over a five-year period.

LILCO: The Ultimate Failure of Regulation

Charles M. Studness

Nowhere are the failings of traditional utility regulation more evident than on Long Island. The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has raised rates for the Long Island Lighting Co. (LILCO) 31 percent since 1989. Rates are now over twice the national average (em the highest in the continental United States. Meanwhile, Long Island's economy has been ravaged by defense cutbacks that have erased 100,000 jobs (em a 10-percent drop in employment.

States Review Market-based Electric Rates

Phillip S. Cross

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has approved a new

"market-based" electric tariff for Fitchburg Gas & Electric Co., a combined electric and gas utility. The "Energy Bank Service" for new or expanding industrial customers offers rates competitive with average U.S. industrial rates.

FERC's Mega-NOPR: The IOUs Respond

Brian Gish

It comes as no surprise that regulated investor-owned utilities (IOUs) hold divergent views on the restructuring of the electric industry. Size, generation cost, transmission access, customer loyalty, and the friendliness of state regulators all factor into their individual visions of restructuring.

Kentucky Settles Trimble Dispute

Phillip S. Cross

After well over a decade, the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) has finally concluded a long-standing dispute governing rate treatment for Louisville Gas & Electric's investment in the Trimble County generating facility. In 1989, the PSC disallowed 25 percent of the 495-megawatt coal-fired plant from rate base. Under the newly approved agreement, the utility will refund current customers $22 million: $5.3 million is reserved to special contract customers, and the balance will be refunded to all other customers through a per-kilowatt-hour credit over a five-year period.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

Mark your calendars for April 29, 1996. That's the date of the "filing of the century," according to Donald Garber, group manager for strategic plans and projects at San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

Garber is talking about plans to file a draft operating agreement at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the proposed California Power Exchange. The April filing will mark an important step in executing the December 20 order by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

States Differ on Capacity-release Revenues

Phillip S. Cross

Bucking the current trend among state utility regulators, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (URC) has denied a request by Northern Indiana Public Service Co., a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), to retain a portion of the revenues it receives from pipeline capacity-release transactions. The LDC asked the URC to permit shareholders to retain 50 percent of the revenues gained from participation in the "secondary market" for interstate pipeline capacity instead of flowing them back to ratepayers through the quarterly gas-cost adjustment (GCA) mechanism.

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