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Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1996

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

Labor Day found me trudging around in one of those "big box" discount stores, looking for a sale on a new refrigerator. Out West, California lawmakers spent the holiday putting together their own discount plan (em this one promising rate cuts for the state's residential electric consumers, funded by "rate reduction bonds" backed by a state-owned bank for economic development.

Either way you cut it, the holiday proved worthy of its name.

FERC Requires Qfs to File Rates for Noncompliance

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced that qualifying facilities (QFs) that fail to meet the standards needed to retain QF status will be required to file wholesale rates for sales during the period their facilities do not comply (Docket Nos. EL94-45-001 and QF88-84-006).

The FERC asked QFs to be as vigilant as possible. The new policy states that if a QF fails to comply with the regulations, fails to receive a FERC waiver excusing the lapse, and then returns to noncompliance, the QF will be required to file rates for the noncompliance period.

People

Ronald L. Adams, an executive from Transcontinental Gas Pipeline, was named president of CNG Transmission Corp. He replaces L.J. Timms, Jr., who retired.

Lee Elder was hired by GE Nuclear Energy as manager of market development. Elder was g.m. of nuclear marketing and technology for Black & Veatch and started a joint venture between the two companies to service boiling water reactors.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has hired Richard L. Heck, a former U.S.

FERC Proposes Capacity Release Changes

Lori A. Burkhart

The FERC has proposed major revisions to the secondary market for interstate capacity, offering interstate pipelines and holders of interstate capacity the opportunity to participate in experimental programs to help determine the effectiveness of the proposed changes (Docket Nos.

Mailbag

I was surprised that the news item "N.Y. Issues Electric Restructuring Plan" (Courts and Commissions, 7/15/96, p. 45) neglected to mention one of the most significant aspects of the restructuring order at the New York Public Service Commission (PSC). In its May 20th order, it adopted the goal of wholesale competition by early 1997, and retail access by early 1998.

As the PSC stated: "A main benefit of setting a timetable is that it would give parties a goal and expectation that should move the process along.

Constellation Merger Set for Hearing

Lori A. Burkhart

A divided Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has set for expedited hearing the proposed merger between Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. (BGE) and Potomac Electric Power Co. (PEPCO) to form "Constellation Energy Corp.," to determine its effect on competition (Docket Nos. EC96-10-000 and ER96-784-000).

It will also consider the applicants' proposed open-access transmission rates. An administrative law judge will certify the record to the FERC by November 1.

Mailbag

Attorney Edward L. Flippen insists it "doesn't take an economist to figure out" what will happen to electricity prices in a restructured industry that provides for open access and retail wheeling ("Radical Restructuring? Not in My State," Perspective, August 1996, p. 11).

Forgoing an economist, Flippen predicts that electricity rates will reach a national equilibrium point substantially higher than rates currently prevailing in Virginia but below rates in California.

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Economic Development Rates. Michigan rescinds existing guidelines for economic development rates in favor of "case-by-case" development and review. Case No. U-11065, July 16, 1996 (Mich.P.S.C.).

Least-cost Planning. Maine considers repeal of obsolete portions of its least-cost planning regulations for electric utilities. Dkt. No. 96-371, July 9, 1996 (Me.P.U.C.).

Gas System Acquisitions. Alabama allows Alabama Gas Corp. to buy municipal gas distribution system and include purchase price in rates. Dkt.

Mailbag

I am shocked that a respected and learned analyst of the utility industry like Charles Studness would espouse a position that stranded-cost recovery is somehow "un-American" ("Stranded-cost Recovery: It's Un-American," Financial News, July 15, 1996, p. 43).

Contrary to the claims of Mr. Studness, recovery of stranded cost is a fundamental right protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Stranded Costs: Qualified Financing for Intangible Assets

A new law could help New York utilities reduce electric rates

and improve their balance sheets.

Legislation recommended by Gov. Pataki on June 1, 1996, seeks to provide the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) with a new financial tool to address possible stranded costs as the state moves toward a competitive retail electric market.

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