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Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 1996

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.

El Paso Electric Rises From the Ashes

Lori A. Burkhart

After four years and four tries, El Paso Electric Co. (EPE) has finally got a plan, and a ticket out of bankruptcy. EPE's fourth amended reorganization plan has been approved by the federal bankruptcy court as well as federal and state regulators, and received near-unanimous acceptance by creditors and stockholders.

The plan proposes two alternative methods of emerging from bankruptcy. Under the preferred alternative, EPE would use the proceeds from an underwritten public offering of first mortgage bonds to repay the claims of existing secured creditors in full.

Utah Gives Monsanto Third-Party Supply Option

Phillip S. Cross

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a plan by Utah Power and Light Co., partner in a merger with PacifiCorp, to offer its largest customer, Monsanto, reduced rates as well as an option to arrange for the delivery of third-party power when prices fall below state levels.

Enron Salvages India Plant

Lori A. Burkhart

Canceled last August, Enron Corp.'s $2-billion, 2,250-megawatt power plant in Maharashtra has been resurrected. Enron's new agreement with the Indian Government specifies a lower price for electricity (5.28 instead of 6.81 cents per kilowatt-hour) and a $365-million cut in capital costs. A separate venture will cover a portion of the costs in the project's second phase, reducing the overall capital budget from $2.8 to $2 billion. Although the government has not yet rendered a formal decision, Enron expects to begin construction within three months.

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