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Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1997

DSM Program Victim of Market Reforms

Phillip S. Cross

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has allowed Idaho Power Co. to terminate an "industrial efficiency" conservation program designed to promote the installation of energy efficient equipment by both industrial and large commercial users through the use of grants awarded by the utility.

The commission found that the way to implement such goals is changing in light of electric industry restructuring, while declaring its continuing support for utility investment in conservation and renewable-based resources.

Phone Wars Ripen in 440-plus Locales

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

A year after passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, more than 440 local phone markets are ripe for competition, says a new report.

According to its second Competition Report, the U.S. Telephone Association says nearly every state has open markets.

In 1995, market-share losses in high-capacity local business service were 39 percent in Philadelphia; 35 percent in Pittsburgh; 32 percent in Washington, D.C.; 27 percent in Baltimore; 39 percent in Los Angeles; 37 percent in San Francisco; 50 percent in New York City; and 37 percent in Boston.

Minnesota Identifies Environmental Adders

Phillip S. Cross

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has adopted a schedule of environmental costs for electric utilities evaluating and selecting resource options in all commission proceedings including resource-plan and certificate-of-need cases.

In each such case the utilities will be required to provide three cost analyses for each generation-option provided: one using the values at the low end of the range (see table), one using values at the high end of the range, and one reflecting "direct costs only" (i.e., using zero environmental externalities values).

Table.

Real-Time Pricing-Restructuring's Big Bang

Phil Hanser, Jose Wharton, and Peter Fox-Penner

The electric industry hasn't seen so much upheaval since Thomas Edison threw the switch at the Pearl Street Station. Full retail access to competitive markets in generation and supply will challenge traditional ways of doing business. But no change will prove more dramatic for electric utilities than setting a competitive price (em that most fundamental of business decisions.

In anticipation of competition, utilities have been experimenting to discern what forms of the "product" (em electric power (em customers might want, and at what prices. One such experiment is real-time pricing.

Minnesota Eyes Tax Issues Via Study

Lori A. Burkhart

The Minnesota Department of Revenue and the Minnesota Department of Public Service have released a study finding that electric and natural gas utilities pay higher taxes in certain categories than in other states in the region, which could put Minnesota at a disadvantage as the utility industry becomes increasingly competitive.

The study, mandated by the 1996 state Legislature, finds that in addition to paying high real estate taxes, utilities also pay personal property taxes on machinery and equipment. However, in 1996, Gov.

Electric Utility Fails in Bid for Antitrust Immunity

Phillip S. Cross

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Portland General Electric Co., could not invoke "state action immunity" as protection against antitrust charges in a case involving the division of the Portland, Ore., market into exclusive service territories.

Columbia Steel Casting Co., a large industrial consumer of electric power in the city, had sued Portland General and another local utility, Pacific Power & Light Co., charging both companies with dividing the city's electric users among them in violation of federal antitrust laws.

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