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Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1996

Texas PUC Develops ECOM Model

Lori A. Burkhart

To prepare a report on stranded investment mandated by the Texas legislature, the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has asked electric utilities to file the required financial information using a new model.

The model consists of six scenarios that use a number of variables approved by the PUC to yield a broad estimate of excess cost over market (ECOM) (em a measure of potential stranded costs. Each utility will file 54 "snapshots" of its potential excess-cost factors based on various competitive market scenarios and market-price assumptions.

Court Clears Way for N.H. Retail Wheeling Pilot

Phillip S. Cross

Clearing a legal challenge blocking initiation of New Hampshire's newly approved retail wheeling experiment, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) has the authority to grant competing electric utility franchises. Public Service Co.

Leasing the Loop: Telephone Service Resale in the Local Exchange

Terrence J. Schroepfer, and Margarete Z. Starkey

LEASING THE LOOP:

Telephone Service Resale in the Local ExchangeResellers want steep discounts, but local rates don't always cover costs. And reselling local lines provides little incentive

to upgrade the network.The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Act) compels local exchange carriers (LECs) to sell telephone service to competitors (em who would then resell to the public at retail. Instead of constructing their own local distribution networks, competitors would buy local telephone service from the existing carrier at discounted rates.

O&R Chastised and Moving Forward

Lori A. Burkhart

The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved an

$8.5-million refund for customers of Orange & Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R) in light of improprieties committed by some of the utility's former senior executives (Case 96039/95E0491). Since the investigation began, O&R has terminated or retired eight of 11 senior managers and replaced its external auditing firm.

Sourth Carolina Tries LEC Price Caps

Phillip S. Cross

The South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) has adopted an alternative regulation plan for BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc, a local exchange carrier (LEC). The plan replaces an incentive regulation plan adopted by the PSC in 1991, but subsequently reversed by the state supreme court. See, South Carolina Cable Television Association v. South Carolina Pub. Service Commission et al., 437 S.E.2d 38, 150 PUR4th 216 (S.C. 1993).

The Vanishing LATA: Pricing Chasms and Clashing Markets for Toll Service

Michael H. Lee, and William A. Rosquist

By Michael H. Lee and William A. RosquistThe Vanishing LATA:

Pricing Chasms

and Clashing Markets

for Toll Service

Wide disparities can occur in toll rates within some states (em a legacy of multiple LATAs. Now, with

barriers falling, where will prices go?

Penn. Examines Utility Accountability for Contractors

Lori A. Burkhart

Penn. Examines

Utility Accountability

for Contractors

Pennsylvania State Senator Albert V. "Bud" Belan (D-West Mifflin) has disagreed with the findings of an internal investigative report by former state Attorney General Walter Cohen that exonerated Peoples Natural Gas Co. (PNG) from any responsibility for the alleged attack and rape of a utility customer by a private contractor hired to read gas meters.

Service Complaints Kill Oregon Price Caps

Phillip S. Cross

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) has terminated an alternative regulation plan adopted for U S WEST Communications, Inc. a telecommunications local exchange carrier (LEC), in 1991.

Flexible Pricing and PBR: Making Rate Discounts Fair for Core Customers

Tim Woolf, and Julie Michals

With competition looming, electric utilities increasingly resort to price discounts, both to retain customers and to alleviate some of the pressure to introduce retail competition. Performance-based ratemaking (PBR), which allows utilities greater flexibility in offering price discounts, is emerging as an integral component of many restructuring proposals.

However, flexible pricing can create inequity among ratepayers.

Perspective

Marija Ilic

Some believe that small-scale, distributed generation will usher in a new era of magically inexpensive power: Industrial users will run their own cogeneration units. Many residential customers will use some sort of portable (em perhaps exotic (em power equipment in their homes. Existing, utility-owned, large-scale generating stations will be cast off on the path to ultimate efficiency.

Meanwhile, New England is running out of power this summer.

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