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Fortnightly Magazine - February 15 1997

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

Did you see Enron's new TV ad when it aired last month during the Super Bowl? What a dud. I had heard about Enron's big pitch (em in fact, I was watching carefully for the ad when, early during the first quarter, here comes this scene of an electric utility power plant control room with a hamster running in place on a wheel inside a cage, trying to reach a bottle of beer standing on a pedestal a few inches away.

Whoa now! Can this be true?

DOE Builds Base for Administration's Restructuring Bill

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

To predict the Clinton Administration's next step is foolhardy. And when it comes to the first federal restructuring bill, it's riskier still to rely on drafts that apparently were leaked to gauge reactions of the energy industry and media.

"There have been a gazillion versions of the bill which have been prepared," says a Department of Energy official.

People

Richard Y. Roberts, commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for five years through July 1995, joined Reid & Priest. He'll work in the business, finance, infrastructure, government, utility and energy segment of the firm.

El Paso Energy International Co., a unit of El Paso Energy Corp., named a six-man management team, pulled from international operations and the recently acquired Tenneco Energy. Byron Kelley will be executive v.p.; John R. Cunningham will be v.p.-administration, engineering and asset management; William S.

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Residential Weatherization. Idaho allows Utah Power & Light Co. to discontinue its demand-side management program for residential weatherization, calling it "apparently no longer of much value." to customers. Case No. UPL-E-96-6, Order No. 26747, Dec. 31, 1996 (Idaho P.U.C.).

Real-time Pricing. Montana Power Co.

Joules

Four U.S., Canadian and British organization formed a $5.3 million venture to develop ultrasonic tools for detecting stress corrosion in natural gas an liquid pipelines. The consortium includes the Gas Research Institute, British Gas plc, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, and PRC International. The new device will allow inspection of a wider range of gas pipelines. Field testing was expected to begin in 1998.

Conoco Global Power, Inc. and Western Resources' The Wing Group are among investors in a 160-megawatt (MW), natural gas-fired power plant in Columbia.

Mass Ok's Price Cap for Gas LDC, Questions Revenues

Phillip S. Cross

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has authorized the Boston Gas Co. to implement a performance-based rate plan that will include a price cap for monopoly services, using the "GDP-PI" measure of inflation, minus a productivity offset of 2 percent.

It also told Boston Gas to cut rates by $2.897 million but allowed the company to go forward on an interim basis with an plan to unbundle services and require customers or marketers to take manadatory assignment of a pro rata share of the company's upstream pipeline and storage capacity contracts.

PECO Energy Buys Power Plant

Lori A. Burkhart

In a unique agreement with two of its largest industrial customers, PECO Energy Co. has purchased USX Corp.'s Fairless Works power plant in Bucks County, Pa. The plant will burn landfill gas purchased from Waste Management Inc., which owns two nearby landfills.

The Fairless Works site hosts the sheet- and tin-finishing operations of the U.S. Steel Group of USX Corp., along with several other industrial plants. PECO now will own the USX power house with two steam turbine generators, which produce up to 60 MW of electricity and 200,000 pounds of steam per hour.

Ohio Tells Electrics to Aggregate

Phillip S. Cross

The Ohio Public Utilities Commission has adopted guidelines for mandatory pilot programs by electric utilities to aggregate customer loads.

Enron Joins With California Agency

Lori A. Burkhart

The 700,000-customer Northern California Power Agency and Enron Capital & Trade Resources, an Enron Corp. subsidiary, have formed an exclusive strategic alliance to offer improved energy services while allowing NCPA to compete in a deregulated electric market.

Upon reaching a final agreement, Enron will provide the agency with a comprehensive package of services, including sale of natural gas and financial and risk management products.

N.J. Board Beggs Off Antitrust-Style Claim by Appliance Contractors

Phillip S. Cross

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has rejected a request by a trade group representing heating, cooling, and appliance repair and installation vendors to direct Public Service Electric and Gas Co.

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