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Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1997

Electric vs. Gas

Bruce B. Lindsay

I was amused and concerned by the allegations of marketing warfare that Mr. Krebs felt compelled to address in his December 1996 article.

Dodging Suits and Pols, DOE Digs In on Nuclear Waste

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

Chair Murkowski Chews Out an Undersecretary. At a Senate panel on a bill calling for the Department of Energy to store nuclear waste short-term, opponents stacked up objections, even renewing opposition to a permanent site.

The "Nuclear Waste Policy Act," S. 104, is similar to a bill passed in the Senate last year. It calls for

construction of temporary storage, a safe way to transport the waste, and more studies leading to a permanent site 1,200 feet below the ground at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Already, $6 billion has helped bore an exploratory tunnel there.

Off Peak

A control area is like an airport (em too many planes, not enough runways.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, AUGUST 21, 1996 - 8:35 A.M.

On Saturday, Aug. 10, 1996, a power outage left more than 4 million Californians without electricity, prompting the California Public Utilities Commission to conduct emergency hearings. Witnesses appeared from electric utilities and a host of federal and state agencies, including the Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Western Systems Coordinating Council.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

One of these days you may see a former chairman of the American Gas Association become the new chair of the Edison Electric Institute. Or maybe the other way around.

I broached this subject the other day when I found myself downtown at EEI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, talking with some association reps.

Bumpers' Bill Introduced In 105th Congress

Lori A. Burkhart

A national electric competition bill introduced by Senator Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) Jan. 30 that would allow customers to choose their electric supplier by December 2003, invoked mixed reactions.

Bumpers, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee, said the bill would establish a uniform federal system to avoid "certain chaos," which would result from legislating different guidelines for the industry.

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.

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