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Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 1996

IRP Case Centers On Fuel Substitution Externalities

Phillip S. Cross

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has found a "qualitative assessment" of the external costs associated with supply options sufficient to approve an initial integrated resource plan (IRP) for Hawaii Electric Light Co., Inc.

What to do with All that Cash?

Charles M. Studness

What to Do With All that CASH?Seeing no need to build, utility managers are looking

to invest. Can they be trusted

with stockholder money?With little of the fanfare that surrounds the debate on utility competition, robust cash flows and declining capital outlays have created forces that will reshape the industry no matter how competitive restructuring unfolds. Cash generation already exceeds investment in core utility activities, and the differential will grow sharply over the next several years.

FERC Rejects "Secret" Negotiated Rates

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has rejected a request by NorAm Gas Transmission Co. for confidential treatment of its negotiated rates, saying that it would no longer accept for processing any rate sheets marked "confidential" or "privileged" (Docket Nos. RP96-200-002 and RP96-200-003). But Commissioner James J. Hoecker did note that rate disclosure could result in competitive harm, something the FERC should investigate in the future. t

Lori A. Burkhart is an associate legal editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.

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LDC Must Offer Contiguous Billing, Absorb Special Discounts

Phillip S. Cross

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has reaffirmed an earlier decision requiring Consumers Power Co., a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), to absorb revenue losses associated with special discounts granted to large transportation customers under contracts and tariffs approved by the PSC. While directing the LDC to reduce base gas rates by $11.73 million, the PSC ruled that Consumers had failed to prove that the discounts were justified by cost of service or that the load-retention aspects of the discounts conferred a general benefit on ratepayers.

Automated Meter Reading: Two Companies, Two Strategies

Rashida Syed

Automated Meter Reading:

Two Companies,

Two StrategiesThe question is whether to own or lease,

but each route offers its own advantages.

With deregulation nipping at their heels, utilities are looking for ways to gain and maintain

customers. Aggressive utilities are seeking new customers outside of their service territories and offering competitive prices, new products, and new services.

Financial News


SELECTED ENERGY STOCK PERFORMANCE: SECOND QUARTER 1996

SEPTEMBER 01, 1996

Alabama Begins LEC Rate REbalancing

Phillip S. Cross

The Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) has implemented a rate rebalancing plan to coordinate the pricing of services provided by telecommunications local exchange carriers (LECs) with recent efforts to open the local market to competition. According to the PSC, existing LECs that support underpriced local service with excessive access charges are at a significant disadvantage when they enter a competitive, price-regulated environment.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

Six weeks ago I wrote a column ("$70,000 an Hour," July 15, 1996, p. 4) about nuclear waste, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the billions of dollars paid in by electric utilities that lie stranded in the federal nuclear waste fund.

On July 23 a federal appeals court ruled that DOE must establish a repository and begin accepting high-level nuclear waste for storage, beginning January 31, 1998. (See, Indiana-Michigan Power Co. v. DOE, D.C. Cir.

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Metering and Service Termination. Pennsylvania proposes two new meter-testing formats for LDCs: 1) a statistical sampling method that categorizes meters based on technology, design, manufacture, model, and operating characteristics; and 2) a variable interval approach that ties the retirement rate for a meter category to level of accuracy. Docket No. L-00960116, Mar. 28, 1996 (Pa.P.U.C.).

N.M. Rejects Tariffs for LDC Nonutility Services

Phillip S. Cross

The New Mexico Public Utility Commission (PUC) has rejected a request by PNM Gas Services, a division of Public Service Co. of New Mexico and a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), to implement two new experimental "optional utility services": 1) a Food Service Maintenance Program (maintenance and repair on commercial equipment), and 2) an Energyguard Bill Payment Protection Plan (insurance).

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