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Fortnightly Magazine - December 1996

GA PSC OKs Discount Contract

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved its first negotiated contract for discounted electric rates under an economic development incentive plan adopted in 1994.

Georgia Power Co. filed the contract in May after Olin Corp. announced it would relocate 100 manufacturing jobs to Tennessee unless the company could negotiate power rates.

Mass. Pins Telco Competition to TSLRIC

Phillip S. Cross

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has decided to use separate cost methods 1) to determine whether a local telephone service is subsidized, and to set price floors for essential monopoly services provided by NYNEX, a local exchange carrier (LEC); and 2) to set rates and price floors for competitive services.

According to the DPU, Total Service Long Run Incremental Cost (TSLRIC) was undisputed as the proper method of testing for subsidies between services.

Gov./ACC Squabble Over Arizona's Restructuring

Jamie B. Simon

Utilities in the Western Systems Coordinating Council, especially those in Arizona, found out last summer what it's like when 600,000 consumers lose power. This event, however, was just a warmup for the fireworks that followed and then promptly fizzled.

The outage prompted a series of highly publicized letters between Arizona's Republican Gov. Fife Symington and Renz Jennings, the Democratic chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), which has been investigating retail electric competition since 1994.

Idaho Reforms QF Rules

Phillip S. Cross

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has modified the method electric utilities must use to conduct avoided-cost negotiations with qualifying cogeneration facilities (QFs). A new interim standard for large QF projects (greater than 1 megawatt) calculates avoided costs based not on displaced purchases from a single, hypothetical power plant, but on information in the utility's resource plan.

Perspective

Christopher Garbacz

The spectre of retail competition in electricity presents some difficult but solvable technical problems in creating new markets. It could lead to a new world of regulation. At the least, it will expose some currently protected utilities to potential losses that could prove substantial.

This prospect of losses has inspired some high-cost utilities to mount a formidable defense of the status quo, coupled with an aggressive offense to shape the transition.

Penn. Updates Gas Transport Rules

Phillip S. Cross

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has adopted new rules for intrastate gas transportation tariffs filed by local distribution companies (LDCs) in the state. Earlier in the year it had issued a set of "tentative" regulations to serve as a basis for discussion of changes in the gas industry. See Re Gas Transportation Tariffs, 169 PUR4th 212 (Pa.P.U.C.1996).

According to the PUC, the final rules are based on a "reasonable sharing" of opportunities, risks, and obligations.

Marketing & Competing

Corey Stone

Virtual DisCos? Utilities might be stepping out,

but outsourcers could be cutting in.Wholesale competition and the prospect of competitive retailing are leading many electric utilities to turn their distribution activities into discrete business units. But the emergence of the "DisCo" as a distinct entity may only mark the first step in a more radical disaggregation.

Why the distribution business may see radical change isn't immediately apparent.

Gas LDC Offers Residential Transport Options

Phillip S. Cross

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has authorized Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Inc., a local distribution company (LDC), to 1) expand transportation "to potentially capture all residential customers," and 2) institute a voluntary capacity-assignment pilot for residential and small commercial users only. The new transportation service will give residential customers the option of purchasing gas from a marketer by allowing them to aggregate in groups of up to 50 to meet the 5,000-Mcf volume threshold in the tariff.

Majority Whip Introduces Restructuring Bill

Lori A. Burkhart

Signaling the direction he believes the 105th Congress should take, Rep. Tom DeLay

(R-TX) on the last day of the 104th Congress introduced legislation, H.R. 4297, "The Consumers Electric Power Act," to bring competition to the nation's electric industry.

Nevada Plans for Electric Bypass

Phillip S. Cross

As part of its ongoing investigation of electric industry restructuring, the Nevada Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued a report and solicited comment on appropriate regulatory response to customer bypass requests.

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