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Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1996

Joules

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in a report analyzing the July power outage in

14 Western states, notes that New England is "challenged" by the shutdown of 3,000 Mw of nuclear capacity in Connecticut. The mid-Atlantic will be likewise challenged over the coming years by delay in the construction of a 765,000-volt transmission line between West Virginia and Virginia.

UtiliCorp United amended an electric-supply contract with Public Service Co. of Colorado to reduce electric costs for 78,000 electric customers by as much as $1 million a year.

PUC to Hear Complaint by Customer's Employees

Phillip S. Cross

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has agreed to hear a complaint by employees of an industrial customer of Central Maine Power Co. (CMP). The employees allege unfavorable pricing actions against their employer, Yorktowne Paper Mills, including denial of service at the requested voltage. The complaint asks for reparations for prior overcharges.

Maine Drafts Restructuring Plan

Lori A. Burkhart

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has released for comment its Draft Plan on Electric Industry Restructuring, which would allow all retail customers to choose their generation supplier beginning in January 2000. The draft permits customers to aggregate, and does not require reciprocity based on retail access in other states or Canada.

Investor-owned utilities (IOUs) would have to structurally separate generation by January 2000, and divest all generation assets by January 2006.

Ohio Won't Bar Resale of Service<

Phillip S. Cross

The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has reaffirmed an order issued on May 8 in which it struck down a tariff proposed by Toledo Edison Co. that would have barred resale of service by commercial customers. The PUC rejected allegations by Toledo Edison that the ruling constituted a breach of its duty to regulate electric service to end users. It declined to regulate disputes that it characterized as occurring between landlords and tenants, where the landlord is not operating as a public utility. See, Brooks, et al. v. Toledo Edison Co., Case No.

New Estimates of Nuclear Stranding

Lori A. Burkhart

R.J. Rudden Associates, Inc. (RJRA) estimates U.S. nuclear plant stranded costs at $65.5 billion ($1994) if electric industry restructuring is fully implemented in 1997.

The firm's analysis relied on historic cost and performance data for each facility, and on RJRA projections of regional competitive prices for capacity and energy. RJRA said a slower restructuring would reduce the investment at risk to between $46.3 billion (year 2000) and $23.2 billion (year 2010).

Maine to Examine "Energy-Related" Distribution Services

Phillip S. Cross

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has opened a docket to investigate how and to what extent it should regulate "energy-related products and services other than electric service" offered by Central Maine Power Co.

In lieu of price regulation, the utility had proposed setting prices to cover its marginal cost for

specific offerings, including: 1) inspection and maintenance of customer-owned substation facilities, 2) energy control systems and services, 3) construction of customer-owned pole lines, and 4) maintenance and repair of customer-owned lighting equ

Natural Gas Combo to Serve One Million

Lori A. Burkhart

Atmos Energy Corp. and United Cities Gas Co. have announced an agreement to merge in a share-for-share exchange of common stock.

Atmos distributes natural gas to about 673,000 customers through its operating subsidiaries, Energas Co., Greeley Gas Co., Trans Louisiana Gas Co., and Western Kentucky Gas Co. United Cities distributes gas to about 310,000 customers, operates gas storage facilities, and distributes propane to 25,000 customers.

Ohio Repeats Warning to Centerior

Phillip S. Cross

The Ohio Public Utilities Commission has reaffirmed its "recommendation" (issued April 11 in a rate case order) that Toledo Edison Co. and Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. (subsidiaries of Centerior Energy Corp.) should write down $1.25 billion in assets over the next five years to avoid the danger of even greater commission-mandated cost disallowances.

The PUC rejected arguments that it should have ordered the write-down directly.

Converging Markets: The First Real Electric/Gas Merger

Charles M. Studness

Converging Markets:

The First REAL Electric/Gas MergerEnron's bid

to acquire Portland General heralds a new phase

in utility competition.

Why the Holding Company Act doesn't matter.

By Charles M. Studness

The merger agreement between Enron and Portland General Corp. has reshuffled the electric restructuring deck. It makes electric utilities takeover targets for outside suitors after 60 years of peaceful immunity.

Fitch Evaluates NY's Electric Future

Lori A. Burkhart

Citing the ongoing Competitive Opportunities Proceeding as well as recent public statements by New York Public Service Commission (PSC) chairman John O'Mara, Fitch Investors' Service predicts that New York will aggressively approach electric industry restructuring.

Fitch believes electric utility bondholders could be adversely affected by PSC policies that order less than full stranded-cost compensation, establish penalties to force disaggregation, or provide bailouts that transform weak companies into strong competitors.

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