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Fortnightly Magazine - May 1 1997

LG&0E Cuts PacifiCorp Out of Big Rivers Deal

Lori A. Burkhart

In a court-ordered auction held March 19, a federal bankruptcy court judge selected a proposal by LG&E Energy Corp. to lease the generating assets of Big Rivers Electric Corp.

LG&E Energy will lease about $1.3 billion of the generating assets of the bankrupt Henderson, Ky., cooperative for 25 years, and provide power to Big Rivers to serve its member cooperatives and 90,000 customers.

Previously, it appeared PacifiCorp would get the lease agreement, which is the centerpiece of the Big Rivers' reorganization plan. But U.S. District Judge Jennifer B.

Oregon PUC Staff Set To Nix Combo

Lori A. Burkhart

A senior staff member of the Oregon Public Utilities Commission has informed Portland General Corp. and Enron Corp. that the PUC plans to recommend disapproval of the proposed merger between the two utilities.

The decision will run in the staff's final report, which is expected to be released April 11. "We are not trying to kill the merger," said Phil Nyegaard, PUC staff member.

The staff believes that Enron's offer of $61 million in guaranteed cost savings and rate reductions does not provide sufficient benefits to meet the mandates for merger approval.

LIPA Takes Over LILCO

Lori A. Burkhart

The Brooklyn Union Gas Co. and The Long Island Lighting Co. have agreed with the Long Island Power Authority for LIPA to acquire all of the Long Island Lighting Co.'s electric transmission and distribution system, plus substantially all of its regulatory assets and its share of the Nine Mile Point 2 nuclear plant.

The transaction would take place through a stock purchase from the holding company, which Brooklyn Union and Long Island Lighting Co. will form.

Enid, Okla., Flights to Municipalize

Lori A. Burkhart

The city commissioners of Enid, Okla., voted to buy the portion of the electric distribution system of Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. located within city limits, in agreement with a buy-out clause contained in the franchise agreement between the utility and the city.

The city's 25-year franchise agreement with Oklahoma Gas & Electric will expire in June 1998, but Enid must notify the utility one year in advance if it wants to terminate the agreement.

Perspective

Michael Garvin

Every electric utility is looking for new ways to market energy to customers. And why not? Hospitals and other health care organizations constitute one customer segment sorely in need of a new marketing campaign. Even so, the utilities are making many mistakes. The health care sector can present a unique challenge to the utility marketing professional.

The first mistake that utilities make is assuming that hospitals are run like businesses. Technically, hospitals are not businesses. Hospitals do not function like businesses.

Three "Workshops" Down, More "Work" to Do

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

Electric's Players Tell Senate Panel Where to Jump In, Butt Out

With three hearings behind it, what has the Senate panel on electric restructuring learned from regulators, utility execs and other industry types who have testified?

Granted, some candor has emerged from all the maneuvering and positioning typical of electric industry and sector leaders, but is that enough for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to develop a position on federal legislation, without input from energy consumers and the voting public?

Sen. Frank H.

Foundation Decries Lavish Recovery

Lori A. Burkhart

The Heritage Foundation has released its second report in a series on electric deregulation, aimed at capturing the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill now holding hearings on proposed legislation to restructure the electric industry.

The new report, Electricity Deregulation: Separating Fact From Fiction in the Debate Over Stranded Cost Recovery, by Adam D. Thierer, concludes that lavish stranded cost recovery is not justified, and that the "sky will not fall" if stranded cost recovery is limited or denied.

FERC Approves Merger

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the merger of Public Service Co. of Colorado and Southwestern Public Service Co. to create "New Century Energies" (Docket Nos. EC96-2-000 and EC96-2-001).

In a separate order, the FERC has approved the open access transmission tariff for Southwestern Public Service, Public Service Co. of Colorado, and its subsidiary, Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power Co. (Docket No. ER96-2572-000).

Public Service Co. of Colorado and Southwestern Public Service Co. had filed an unopposed settlement agreement.

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Coal Tar Cleanup. Minnesota court affirms ruling by state regulators requiring Interstate Power Co.'s natural gas customers to contribute to costs for cleaning up the company's manufactured gas plants, since the plants were "used and useful" when the pollution occurred (though the wastes were not deemed hazardous until 1980). No. C1096-1558, Feb. 18, 1997 (Minn.Ct.App.).

AT&T's New Market. Washington allows AT&T Communications of the Pacific Northwest Inc.

Gas Marketing Affiliates: Why Mandate a Corporate Separation?

Pamela L. Prairie

Competitors would have LDCs quit the merchant function and restrict

their dealings with affiliated marketers. But is that really good for consumers?

Those who would restrict business dealings between natural gas local distribution companies and their marketing affiliates (em going so far as to ban LDCs from the merchant function (em often overlook one critical downside: what those rules would mean for the small gas customer.

A regulatory policy for a code of conduct and LDC merchant service must improve the position of consumers.

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