New realities demand new direction from utilities.
Sound bites from state and federal regulators.
Environmental Review. California halts work on report of environmental impacts of electric restructuring and new market structure, finding no need for independent review of commission proposals after state Legislature had sanctioned "a more competitive scheme" last summer when it passed Assembly Bill 1890. R.94-04-031, I.94-04-032, Decision 96-12-075, Dec. 12, 1996 (Cal.P.U.C.).
Electric Restructuring. Vermont adopts plan to bring choice of supply to state's electric customers (and retail access by January 1998), even though state's electric system "is not broken." Plan requires largest investor-owned utilities to transfer generation and distribution functions to separate corporate subsidiaries. Board will review stranded costs in mitigation proposals filed by each utility during 1997. Docket No. 5854, Dec. 30, 1996 (Vt.P.S.B.).
Heat Pump Promotions. Duke Power wins 12-month extension for plan to pay home builders up to $3500 per home to offset costs of installing heat pumps, expects participation (currently 3 builders) to grow in future. Docket No. M-100, Sub 124, Dec. 31, 1996 (N.C.U.C.).
Load Aggregation. Pilot program for time-of-use rates at Duke Power Co. allows nonresidential customers with a contract demand of at least 5000 kilowatts to aggregate load from multiple premises on noncontiguous properties for billing purposes. Docket No. E-7,Sub 595, Dec. 31, 1996 (N.C.U.C.).
DSM Bidding. Maine regulators decide against public solicitation to set target level for demand-side management resources for Central Maine Power Co., fearing "an unacceptably large amount of DSM,"even if all bids were cost effective. "A prohibitive rate impact might result," says PUC, which set DSM target at 34 million kWh. Docket No. 96-598, Nov. 15, 1996 (Me.P.S.C.).
Natural Gas Briefs
Class Rate Spread. Georgia allows United Cities Gas Co. to allocate 87 percent of $3.16-million rate increase to residential users and to break with precedent by including short-term debt in capital structure for rate purposes. Case sets return on equity of 11.5 percent. Docket No. 6691-U, Nov. 25, 1996 (Ga.P.S.C.).
LDC Mergers. Ohio regulators approve proposed merger of East Ohio Gas Co. and West Ohio Gas Co., wholly owned subsidiaries of Consolidated Natural Gas Co., a registered public utility holding company. East Ohio will emerge as the surviving corporation and will conduct gas purchasing functions. The merger partners see cost savings from $400,000 to $2 million from early retirement programs. Case No. 96-991-GA-UNC, Dec. 19, 1996 (Ohio P.U.C.).
Internet Phone Calls. Florida finds no basis to regulate manufacturers of computer software used to make long-distance telephone calls over the Internet, but warns it might regulate providers of "gateway" services for Internet telephony. (Software simply enhances "customer premises equipment" [already unregulated], so manufacturers do not qualify as "telecommunications companies.") Docket No. 960355-TP, Order No. PSC-96-1545-FOF-TP, Dec. 16, 1996 (Fla.P.S.C.).
Telco Service Quality. Oregon adopts new standards for quality of service by local exchange telephone carriers for items such as installation of new service, repair times, dial-tone speed and subscriber lines, rejecting claim that competition avoids need for such rules, since competitive providers still depend on facilities supplied by regulated LECs. AR 316, AR 322, Dec. 20, 1996 (Ore.P.U.C.).