Sound bites from state and federal regulators.
Natural Gas Briefs
Gas Rate Indexing. Alabama continues its a rate stabilization and equalization (RSE) procedure for Alabama Gas Corp. (rates adjusted quarterly to conform return on equity to a preset range). Commission says RSE plan has helped company address recent gas market changes such as supply diversification, system bypass, and competition. Docket No. 25600, Oct. 7, 1996 (Ala.P.S.C.).
Gas Motor Vehicles. Peoples Natural Gas Co. may negotiate rates for gas sales or transportation service with operators of motor vehicle fueling stations, or with vehicle or fleet owners served at separately metered sites, but cannot negotiate rates below its own commodity cost, or use its regulated rates to recover costs incurred for refueling stations. R-00963698, Oct. 3, 1996 (Pa.P.U.C.).
Interruptible Gas Sales. Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. loses bid for a $2.4 million natural gas rate hike when New York regulators credit company revenues with profits from past interruptible sales, plus overcollections of pension and research and development costs. Case 95-G-1034, Oct. 3, 1996 (N.Y.P.S.C.).
Local Phone Resale. Ohio follows FCC in adopting TELRIC method (total element, long-run incremental cost) for pricing unbundled local exchange service elements for resale to new local competitors. Case No. 95-845-TP-COI, Nov. 7, 1996 (Ohio P.U.C.).
Universal Service. California finalizes rules on universal telephone service, providing for a newly established "California High Cost Fund-B" to support the state's largest local exchange carriers in serving high-cost areas, and requiring an annual statewide subsidy as high as $1.1 billion (according to the PUC), to be funded by customer surcharges. R. 95-01-020, I. 95-01-021, Decision 96-10-066, Oct. 25, 1996 (Cal.P.U.C.).
Electric Supply Choice. Minnesota reaffirms that "public policy" barred Inland Steel Mining Co. from contracting with Northern Electric Co-op. Asso. to buy a portion of its electric requirements not met by Minnesota Power & Light Co. (Inland's native utility), since the state had not yet authorized customer choice in retail power supply. Docket No. E-130/SA-95-1262, Oct. 25, 1996 (Minn.P.U.C.).
Power Pool Computers. California modifies plan for utility funding for computer systems needed to support the state's Independent System Operator (ISO) and Power Exchange (PX), to coordinate with formation of the ISO and PX governing boards. Application 96-07-001, Decision 96-10-044, Oct. 15, 1996 (Cal.P.U.C.).
Disputes with Marketers. New York moves to protect consumers from arbitration and choice-of-venue clauses in contracts with marketers: consumers may resolve disputes in small claims court (if the amounts are small enough); arbitration for larger disputes is not binding without the customer's "affirmative" election; choice of venue is not binding without the customer's "knowing consent." Cases 93-G-0932, et al., Oct. 25, 1996 (N.Y.P.S.C.).
Nuclear Decommissioning. Arkansas will review new guidelines for nuclear decommissioning trust fund investments by Entergy Arkansas, Inc., proposed jointly by the utility and the state PSC staff in light of Energy Policy Act of 1992, which broadened list of investments eligible for such trust funds. Docket No. 96-341-U, Order No. 1, Oct. 14, 1996 (Ark.P.S.C.).
Municipal Competition. Village of Grafton, Ohio, did not need approval from the state PUC to force Ohio