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Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1997

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.

New York Finalizes ISO Proposal

Lori A. Burkhart

New York Power Authority trustees have approved agreements to help it establish an independent system operator for the statewide electric transmission system, which could be partially implemented in 1997, and fully implemented by mid-1998, if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Members of the New York Power Pool, the authority and the state's seven investor-owned utilities have worked for nearly two years to develop a proposal for an independent system operator, or ISO. The proposal and associated tariffs were submitted to the FERC.

City of Alma Asks for FERC's Help in CE Dispute

Lori A. Burkhart

The City of Alma, Mich., has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider whether Consumers Energy is entitled to recover stranded costs from customers in the municipality that switches from CE's system to a municipal electric system if the city creates one.

A consultant hired by Alma already has determined the city could own and operate a municipal utility, which would result in cost savings in excess of 20 percent. The savings estimate has been challenged by CE, formerly Consumers Power Co., because the analysis does not contain a stranded-cost payment.

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