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Fortnightly Magazine - August 1996

Perspective

Edward L. Flippen

Professor Peter Navarro, who teaches economics and public policy at the University of California at Irvine, writes in the Harvard Business Review (January-February 1996) that "[t]he deregulation of the electric utility industry represents an important opportunity to enhance the country's competitiveness and improve the standard of living for its citizens. ...

N.C. Assigns New Gas-service Areas

Phillip S. Cross

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has made preliminary assignments of unfranchised gas-service areas to local distribution companies (LDCs), pursuant to a 1995 state law. An earlier NCUC order sought applications from LDCs (see, Re Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity for Natural Gas Service, 164 PUR4th 591 (N.C.U.C. 1995)).

First Nonjurisdictional Utility Uses Order 888 "Safe-Harbor"

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on May 29 found that a nonjurisdictional utility's voluntary open-access tariff, with certain modifications, would meet the electric transmission comparability standards established by Order 888. In the first case of its kind, the South Carolina Public Service Authority (SCPSA) has agreed to satisfy the reciprocity requirement that it offer nondiscriminatory transmission services to obtain open-access service from public utilities (Docket No. NJ96-1-000).

SCPSA submitted the open-access tariff before Order 888 came out.

Utility Rate Filings Owe No Explanation to Investors

Phillip S. Cross

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rejected claims that Washington Energy Co., corporate parent of Washington Gas Co., a local distribution company (LDC), committed securities fraud by failing to fully explain that its current application for a rate increase was based in part on expense requests and accounting methods rejected by state regulators in the past.

Order 888 Petitions Strong on Stranded Costs

Lori A. Burkhart

About 90 parties have filed petitions seeking changes to Order 888. Claiming "errors," the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reverse its assertion of:

s Jurisdiction over unbundled retail transmission services

s "Primary" authority over retail stranded-cost recovery when retail consumers convert to wholesale

s "Backstop" authority to provide stranded-cost recovery when an end user changes power suppliers under a state-established retail wheeling system.

Michigan Approves LEC Rate Restructuring

Phillip S. Cross

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has authorized Ameritech Michigan, a local exchange carrier (LEC), to restructure its rates to comply with a new state law forbidding LECs to charge less than the total-service, long-run incremental cost for each local exchange service offered. The LEC claimed that it began with basic services because prices for that segment of the market had been set artificially low for customers in rural areas of the state.

Distributed Generation: Competitive Threat or Opportunity?

George T. Preston, and Daniel M. Rastler

Will new technologies undermine the customer base?

Or can utilities use them offensively?The electric power industry stands poised to move to a fully competitive market. Business realities already imply a broadening of customer choice.

CGT Suggests New Regulatory Model

Lori A. Burkhart

In response to a request for comments on negotiated terms and conditions of service, the Columbia Gas Transmission Corp.

Gas LDC to Recover Stranded Costs

Phillip S. Cross

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has authorized Intermountain Gas Co., a local distribution company (LDC), to implement a new interruptible-distribution transportation service for large-volume industrial customers, including a charge designed to minimize stranded costs associated with migration of customers from sales tariffs.

Green Pricing: The Bigger Picture

Brian Byrnes, Maribeth Rahimzadeh, Renee de Alba, and Keight Baugh

It's not just for residential consumers. Research suggests a

substantial niche market

of commercial

and industrial customers that are favorably disposed to green electricity.Seven utilities across the country have launched "green pricing" programs for residential electric customers. At these utilities, up to 3 percent of residential customers pay rate premiums to underwrite the construction and use of renewable electric generation.

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