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Texas Merger Nears Settlement

Fortnightly Magazine - September 15 1996

Southwestern Public Service Co. (SPS) and Public Service Co. of Colorado (PSCC) have promised to credit Texas ratepayers a minimum of $3 million in annual bill savings (em one part of the settlement proposed on July 8 in their merger case before the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC). According to SPS, the proposed settlement represents an agreement reached between it, the staff of the Texas PUC, and five intervenors in the merger case.

The PUC's administrative law judge has suspended the proceeding so the various parties can finalize details. Although one of the five intervenors abstained, the Office of Public Utility Counsel (OPUC), the utilities feel that OPUC's concerns have been addressed. Another intervenor, Golden Spread Electric Co-op., the largest wholesale customer of SPS, will receive cost-based backup service from SPS as well as economic dispatch for Golden Spread's future generation resources.

The $3 million in credits would apply to Texas residential, commercial, and industrial customers of SPS during the first five years of the merger. The proposal also calls for an even sharing between shareholders and customers of nonfuel operation and maintenance savings over that same period. After five years, all savings would pass to customers. SPS estimates that Texas retail customers will save about $100 million in the first 10 years after the merger.

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