The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has proposed regulations to allow electric utilities to use fuel-cost clauses to recover gains or losses from trading Clean Air Act emission allowances....
States Sue After DOE Says It Won't Act on Nuclear Waste
A group of 40 state agencies has joined with 33 utilities and the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition (NWSC) to file a lawsuit in federal district court after the Department of Energy (DOE) reported that it would not comply with a federal court mandate to accept high-level radioactive waste for permanent storage as of January 31, 1998, and begin removing such waste from temporary storage at some 73 power plants in 34 states.
The D.C. Circuit had ruled against the DOE last summer. (See, Indiana-Michigan Power Co. v. DOE, July 23, 1996, 88 F.3d 1279.) After the DOE had failed to appeal the ruling, the court had remanded the case to DOE for further proceedings. In November, parties to the lawsuit had asked the DOE what actions it was taking to comply with the court's decision.
Looking for Excuses. "Apparently they spent the past six months looking for excuses instead of answers," said Kris Sanda, Commissioner at Minnesota's Public Service Department and NWSC founding member. "Now it looks like the Administration plans to spend the next 13 months asking others to accommodate their failure instead of working to get their job done."
The DOE signed contracts with individual utilities following the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act to begin removing waste from power plants beginning January 31, 1998. Under those contracts, ratepayers have paid over $12 billion into the federal Nuclear Waste Fund to pay for the waste removal program, and continue paying at a rate of $600 million annually.
Regulatory Sanctions. State governments and electric utilities have voiced disappointment for a long time over the DOE's failure to act. Last summer, for example, the Minnesota Department of Public Service recommended last year that the state public utilities commission should allow Northern States Power Co. to withhold payments into the waste fund and direct them instead to an escrow account for nuclear waste and disposal.
In 1995, the Virginia State Corporation Commission had opened an investigation on whether to disallow rate recovery for money that electric utilities pay in to the fund, given what it called the DOE's "continuing delays and lack of progress." (See, Re Investiga. of Spent Nuclear Fuel Disposal, Case No. PUE950060, July 18, 1995.) t
Lori A. Burkhart is an associate legal editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.
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