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Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1997

People

Dennis L. Haider succeeded the retiring R.J. White as president of Prairielands Energy Marketing, Inc. Haider moved over from v.p.-operations for the Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co., another unit of MDU Resources Group Inc. Prairielands became a subsidiary of Williston Basin when Haider took over as president.

In a related development, Ronald G. Skarphol, a special projects manager of Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., takes White's place as v.p.-marketing and business development. Montana-Dakota is another MDU division.

Ensource Cancels Out in Jurisdictional Ploy

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed Ensource, a subsidiary of Pacific Enterprises, to cancel its authorization to engage in power marketing activities at market-based rates.

Intervenors protested that Ensource pursued the cancellation as a tactical maneuver to remove the proposed merger between Pacific Enterprises and Enova from FERC review. They claim that the merger applicants ultimately would resume Ensource's operations and make it part of a post-merger joint venture to market electricity, natural gas and energy-related services at market-based rates.

Mailbag

Steven Rosenstock, P.E., and Mark E. Krebs

If truth is the first casualty of war, as we learned from author Mark Krebs ("It's a War Out There: A Gas Man Questions Electric 'Efficiency,'" December 1996, p. 24), then certainly the truth has been mutilated beyond recognition.

His article, which suggests that electric utilities have used conservation and demand-side programs improperly (to build electric load at the expense of natural gas!) is full of inaccuracies, misleading charts and other errors.

FERC Takes on Stranded Cost Proposal

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission set a hearing for a proposal by New England Power Co. to divest its generating assets and add a termination charge reflecting generation costs that will be stranded due to early service termination.

This move, made on Jan. 29, marks the first time the FERC will consider a case-specific proposal for dealing with stranded costs in the context of corporate restructuring proposals, as allowed by Order 888 (Docket No. ER96-2367).

Joules

Peabody COALSALES Co. agreed to provide Minnesota Power as much as 2.5 million tons of low-sulphur coal each year. Coal will be supplied by Peabody affiliate Big Sky Coal Co. Big Sky's contract with the power company ends in May; the new agreement runs through 1999. Terms of the deal weren't released.

The Georgia Public Service Commission begins a series of workshops on electric industry restructuring next month. The workshops will examine national efforts, consumer ramifications and environmental and energy efficiency issues. Stranded costs also will be targeted.

FERC Looks at Avoided Cost Issues

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that the Iowa Utilities Board's decision to implement an Iowa statute, which obligates electric utilities to purchase power from qualified facilities at rates in excess of the purchasing utilities' avoided costs, is preempted by the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (Docket No.

Illinois Restructuring Debate Heats Up

Lori A. Burkhart

Central Illinois Light Co. unveiled its electric choice bill, which, if enacted, would allow residential customers to choose their electric suppliers beginning Jan. 1, 1998. The proposed legislation appears to conflict with another competition bill introduced Nov. 19, 1996 by the Illinois Coalition for Responsible Electricity Choice, which advocates a phase in of choice from 1997 through 2005. CILCO is the only major electric utility in Illinois that is not behind the Nov. 19 bill.

The CILCO bill, "Consumer Freedom To Choose Electricity Law," was introduced on Jan.

Order 888 Dispute Lands at FERC

Lori A. Burkhart

The Truckee Donner Public Utility District has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to resolve an Order 888 transmission dispute with Sierra Pacific Power Co.

Truckee buys most of its power from SPP but wants the freedom to shop around for less expensive electricity from other suppliers. Truckee is located high on the Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, within SPP's service territory and is not connected with any other utility.

Bankruptcy Specter Looms in New Hampshire (Again)

Lori A. Burkhart

Testifying before the New Hampshire Public

Utilities Commission, the CFO of Northeast Utilities, John H. Forsgren, warned that a proposed electric deregulation plan could push subsidiaries Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, and North Atlantic Energy Corp. into bankruptcy.

Consulting company LaCapra Associates gave its deregulation report and recommendations on Jan. 3 to the PUC. The Jan. 20 hearing was aimed at examining stranded costs, and what portion of its $800 million stranded costs PSNH would be allowed to recover.

New Study Has Policymaker's Endorsement

Lori A. Burkhart

The Heritage Foundation's recently released report, which finds that national electric deregulation would benefit consumers through lower electric rates, better service and more jobs, has the endorsement of a key policymaker.

If Congress passes a bill to deregulate electric markets, the average consumer's monthly electric bill could fall by as much as $30, according to the report, Energizing America: A Blueprint for Deregulating The Electricity Market, written by Adam D. Thierer.

The report has been endorsed by House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas J.

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