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NARUC in Winter

Fortnightly Magazine - April 15 1996

strongly urged the FCC not to preempt state regulators in intrastate, fixed, wireless communications services. NARUC maintains that a fixed wireless service is a local loop that falls under state regulatory jurisdiction.

"This may go to the heart of the regulation of the local loop, and that is whether a fixed wireless loop is in fact a wireless service to be regulated at the federal level or a local loop to be regulated at the state level," said Lisa Rosenblum of the New York Public Service Commission, chair of the communications committee.

Environmental concerns also made the agenda, generating a resolution to work with environmental regulators. "It seems clear that if you are restructuring the industry, you are going to have both environmental impacts and economic impacts," said Ron Eachus of the Oregon Public Utility Commission. "And you need to consider both of those. And there needs to be some . . . coordination done between the economic regulator and environmental regulator."

On another environmental track, Kurt Yeager, Sr. (em vice president and chief operating officer of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) (em told the Electricity Committee that the industry must give some thought to research and development (R&D) left stranded under restructuring. A third of EPRI's program funds, $150 million, is earmarked for research on environmental health and safety, renewable and advanced power generation, efficiency improvements, leading-edge technologies, transmission technologies, and electric vehicles.

"If [they're] not totally stranded, [they] are increasingly being stranded or being subjected to being changed from what I would call a public good set of objectives," Yeager argued. He said the largest concern was not whether EPRI would survive, but whether the industry/EPRI partnership would continue under the R&D framework established 25 years ago.

Gas Research Institute (GRI) representatives also spoke with NARUC about funding. GRI won support for "band-aid" funding to carry it through January 1, 1998. Decontracting and discounting have made it impossible for GRI to fund its entire FERC-approved $218-million program for 1996. The NARUC resolution urges the FERC to give GRI a stable funding base. Living up to its current funding mechanism could cause GRI revenues for 1996 to fall below $160 million. t

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr. is associate editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.

How the Wind Blew...

On Electric Restructuring:

"The 104th Congress should not enact legislation at this point which would impose a single approach that may ignore the differences in state and regional circumstances, or which preempts or interferes with state authority to adopt and implement policies for retail service."

On the New Telecommunications Act:

"We eagerly intend to cut and paste from what [the FCC has done.]"

On Environmental Concerns:

"It seems clear that if you are restructuring the industry, you are going to have both environmental impacts and economic impacts. And you need to consider both of those. And there needs to be some... coordination done between the economic regulator and environmental regulator."

Heard at the NARUC winter committee meetings.

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