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Fortnightly Magazine - September 15 1996

Mass. Makes Strides Over Choice

Lori A. Burkhart

Massachusetts is moving forward with electric and gas competition on all fronts. Environmental Futures, Inc., the program administrator for Massachusetts Electric Co.'s (ME's) "Choice: New England" pilot, has issued requests for proposals for up to 100 million kilowatt-hours of electricity so that electric suppliers around the country may compete to service about 10,000 current ME customers. The one-year voluntary pilot, which begins in December, will let residential and small commercial customers choose their electric supplier.

North Dakota OK's Primergy Merger

Phillip S. Cross

The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved the Primergy merger between Northern States Power Co. and Wisconsin Energy Corp.

As an important factor in its decision, the commission noted that after the merger, Primergy plans to reduce North Dakota electric rates by 1.5 percent and gas rates by 1.25 percent, with a moratorium on increases until 2001.

ALJ Rejects SCE Request for PBR

Lori A. Burkhart

A California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) administrative law judge (ALJ) has issued a proposed decision denying interim performance-based rates (PBR) for Southern California Edison's (SCE's) transmission and distribution services. Since SCE plans to transfer to an independent system operator on January 1, 1998, the ALJ found the interim period too short for PBR to significantly benefit shareholders or ratepayers. SCE will, however, have the opportunity to amend its application to propose a

long-term PBR mechanism for distribution service only.

Off Peak

New thinking defines "stranded costs" in terms of

asset value and return on capital, not lost revenues.

On July 3, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) submitted its report to the Governor and General Assembly on retail electric competition (PUC Docket No.

I-940032).

Indiana Stranded Costs "Minor"

Lori A. Burkhart

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (URC) has given the Indiana legislature a brief summary report in advance of its final energy report on competition.

Texas Merger Nears Settlement

Lori A. Burkhart

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.

Long-Distance Firms May Triumph in Texas

Lori A.Burkhart

The Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has issued a preliminary order allowing Sprint Communications to enter the local-exchange market without committing to a lengthy plan to build a telecommunications network.

Perspective

Jack E. Reinhard

"Utility mentality" has become synonymous with a clinging dependence upon regulation to protect an organization from risk and competition. It also denotes momentum planning and management (em that is, using past performance to project future performance. This way of thinking made sense when companies could count on regulators to shield them from market forces and competition.

The Search for Consumer Content in Energy Marketing and Retailing

Vinod K. Dar

The battle to control profit margin really boils down to a battle for the customer premises, where the serious money resides.The gas and electric industries in the United States control about $900 billion in assets (production, logistical, merchant). They employ these assets to serve about 150 million customers (counted separately for gas and electric), but they manage to offer only two rudimentary products (em molecules and electrons (em and at only two levels of service: firm (supposedly) and interruptible (obviously).

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