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Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 1996

Mailbag

Green Pricing Premium: Less than it Seems

I disagree with the idea that green-pricing programs with the lowest premiums prove the most popular with residential utility customers, as suggested by the article, "Green Pricing: The Bigger Picture" (Byrnes et al., August 1996, p. 18). And, to the extent that that notion comes from information presented about the SolarCurrents program at Detroit Edison (DE), which I manage, I offer some points in rebuttal.

First, the number of participants may prove misleading.

Large Users Benefit from PGA Reforms

Phillip S. Cross

The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) has directed Northern States Power Co., a local distribution company (LDC), to eliminate three "nongas" cost components from its purchased-gas adjustment (PGA) clause: 1) gas transportation credits, 2) recovery of costs associated with certain interconnection facilities, and 3) tax credits resulting from the 1986 Tax Reform Act.

Joules

The Education/Electric Buying Group, which represents Long Island public schools, has asked the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to separately consider its proposal for a competitive electric pilot program. The program calls for electricity purchased at the best price, rather than just through the Long Island Lighting Co. The buying group claims that LILCO has refused requests to discuss the proposal. The school districts estimate they could save $20 million annually in electricity costs without substantially affecting LILCO's net earnings.

Mass. Refines LDC Margin-sharing Plan

Phillip S. Cross

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has clarified an earlier ruling on sharing revenues that local distribution companies (LDCs) receive from certain interruptible services and capacity-release transactions. In that ruling, the DPU had established that LDCs could retain 25 percent of margins above a designated threshold. Re Interruptible Transportation/Capacity Release, D.P.U. 93-141-A , Feb.

N.J. Gas Pilot Aims for Residential Customers

Lori A. Burkhart

Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) has asked the New Jersey BPU to approve a pilot program, SelectGas, that would allow residential natural gas customers in four municipalities to purchase gas from suppliers other than PSE&G. The pilot would run until June 1, 1998. PSE&G's commercial and industrial customers have had choice since December 1994; over 8,000 now participate.

The new service would not require an alternate fuel capability or additional metering, and includes provisions for emergency sales service and offpeak service.

Off Peak

Arizona would wager on electric competition, hedge its bet with a solar portfolio.Looking for a new way to promote renewable energy?

Marketer Attacks Utility's Retail Pilot Program

Lori A. Burkhart

Independent electric marketer Wheeled Electric Power Co. (WEP) has filed a petition at the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), alleging that anticompetitive practices by Central Illinois Light Co.

California Market Attracts Aggregator

Lori A. Burkhart

With its new agreement with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), power aggregator New Energy Ventures, Inc. (NEV) stands poised to enter California's retail market with the advent of competition.

NEV has agreed to purchase 200 megawatts (Mw) of surplus electricity from BPA for five years beginning January 1, 1998, with an option for an additional 200 Mw of surplus firm power for five years from the time the option is exercised. NEV also will purchase seasonal economy power, which sells for less than 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Cajun Nuclear Assets Go to RUS

Lori A. Burkhart

U.S. District Judge Prank Polozola has settled 22 lawsuits involving bankrupt Cajun Electric Power Co-op. and Gulf States Utilities over the River Bend nuclear plant. The settlement turns Cajun's 30-percent share of River Bend over to the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), which holds liens on most of Cajun's assets.

The settlement gives RUS three options: 1) seek a buyer for River Bend, 2) take title in its own name, or 3) give Cajun's 30-percent interest to Entergy Gulf States.

ERCOT Turns into Nation's First ISO

Lori A. Burkhart

The Texas PUC has approved a plan creating the nation's first independent system operator (ISO) from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The ISO will be governed by an 18-member board, with three members each from IOUs, municipal utilities, electric co-ops and river authorities, transmission-dependent utilities, IPPs, and power marketers.

A key part of the ISO plan is an electronic transmission information network (ETIN), which ensures equal access to transmission system information, such as available transmission capacity, product offerings, and prices.

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