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State Roundup - Electric Competition Moves On

Fortnightly Magazine - February 15 1997

as Oct. 1, 1999, by paying a "market access charge." After Jan. 1, 1997, no new requests to increase base utility rates may be filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Quarterly fuel-price adjustments would continue until July 1, 1999. At that time, utility rates would be frozen. Utilities with rates above the state average would have to gradually lower their rates to a state average price between Oct. 1, 1999 and July 1, 2004.

Customers who do not select an electric supplier will have one designated for them by the commission. All electric generators and marketers must offer a "green" power option, which would allow consumers to choose an environmentally friendly supplier. Customers of Indiana's municipal and rural electric co-ops could vote to opt out of competition.

The bill has the support of American Electric Power, CINergy, Indiana Industrial Energy Consumers Inc., and Indiana Manufacturers Association.

MONTANA: Montana Power Co. has advised the Montana Public Service Commission on how to restructure the state's electric industry. A new docket was created to allow the Montana Legislature to review competitive issues first.

Montana Power proposes that Montana phase in competition during a transitional period through July 1, 2002, when all customers would have the opportunity to choose their electric supplier. A "universal systems benefits charge" would pay for low-income services, energy efficiency programs, renewable energy programs and research and development. A

competitive-transition charge would be imposed to pay for stranded costs. Generation would become unregulated and competitive.

The Montana PSC had conducted a roundtable hearing on restructuring early in 1996, and had issued its statement on principles for restructuring in May 1996. "We believe our informational filing addresses these principles, and becomes the first documented proposal offered in Montana to define a transition to electric power supply choice," said MP Vice Chairman and President Robert P. Gannon.

(em Lori A. Burkhart

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