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Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 1996

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

You've heard talk lately about the convergence of electricity and natural gas. That idea has grown as commodity markets have matured for gas and emerged for bulk power.

But some economists take a different view. They see the real convergence occurring between electricity and telecommunications. I'm not talking about the "smart house" or fiber-to-the-whatever. Instead, how is the product is created?

Unsubscribed Capacity: A Growing Problem

Lori A. Burkhart

An LDC Caucus report, An Issue Paper Regarding Future Unsubscribed Pipeline Capacity, forecasts an increase in reduced subscriptions of firm capacity due to a combination of factors:

s Shifting patterns of gas purchasing will reduce the need for transportation over certain pipeline corridors.

s Single-fixed-variable rate design makes capacity reservation costly for LDCs with low load factors.

People

Peter C. Nelson was named president and CEO of California Water Service Co. Nelson also will be a director. He comes from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., where he was v.p.-division operations. He replaces the retiring Donald L. Houck.

Jack Lucido of ANR Pipeline Co. was elected to the American Gas Association's pipeline research committee, succeeding Gary Walker of Pacific Transmission Co.

The Electric Power Research Institute hired Karl G. Van Orsdol as senior manager, international relations.

Will Residential Customers Pay for Competition?

Phillip S. Cross

High industrial electricity rates are often blamed upon current regulation. Some state regulators respond with broad-based reforms; others simply reallocate system costs from industrial rate classes to rates for more inelastic customers (em namely, residential users.

Mailbag

PBR's Changing Face

William D. Steinmeier ("Price-Based Regulation: The Elegance of Simplicity," Jan. 15, 1996, p. 35) presents an unconvincing and misleading case for performance-based regulation (PBR). He is right that PBR is potentially simpler to implement than cost-of-service regulation and provides a strong incentive for companies to cut costs. However, one of his main points (em that profits don't matter, only prices do (em applies only to competitive markets.

Retail Rate Subsidies - Recent Cases

Nearly every major rate case over the past several years focuses some attention on removing subsidies running between rate classes.

Trends

Kent Knutson

Over the past quarter-century, the electric utility industry has undergone oil embargoes, economic recessions, increasing regulatory complexity, and great advances in technology. Perhaps the two best adjectives to describe the last 25 years are "uncertainty" and "change." With deregulation and restructuring upon us, the pace of this change and uncertainty is accelerating. But one thing remains constant: When it comes to presidential elections, growth in electric demand is a good indicator of an incumbent's chances for reelection.

LEC Price-cap Plan Fails Court Tests

Phillip S. Cross

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has overturned major parts of a price-cap regulatory plan for Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania, Inc., a telecommunications local exchange carrier (LEC). The court directed the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to modify an inflation offset and to reexamine its classification of certain LEC service offerings as competitive.

Joules

.Pp

jü( )l, n: A unit of energy measurement equal to a watt-second. .Pp

Three company alliances offer utilities new tools to help customers use and save on energy:

s AT&T and Andersen Consulting have developed a prototype communications system that allows utilities to offer home security, electronic billing, real-time pricing, and other energy management services.

s A new company formed by Ameritech Corp. and Wisconsin Energy Corp.

Virginia Worries About Native Load

Phillip S. Cross

Rapid developments in the electric industry, especially in wholesale markets, have prompted the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) to extend its review of a utility's plans to add to its transmission system. Appalachian Power Co., an operating member of the American Electric Power (AEP) system, had asked the SCC for authority to construct a 765-kilovolt transmission line between substations in West Virginia and Virginia.

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