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Fortnightly Magazine - July 1 1997

Sacremento to Allow Customer Choice

Lori A. Burkhart

The board of directors of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District has approved the introduction of competition in its service territory. SMUD is opening up competition for 100 megawatts of power (em about 5 percent of its total load (em in its new "Direct Access Phase-In Program."

Starting in June, customers may contract with a new energy supplier. Customers could receive power from the new provider in July.

States Set Rates for LEC Interconnection Services

Phillip S. Cross

Signaling victory over one of the more complex issues in the move to competition in the local telephone market, regulators in Connecticut and New York have adopted rate plans for unbundled interconnection services offered by incumbent local exchange carriers.

Both states also recently approved the wholesale discount rate that the LECs must apply to existing services when offering them for resale by competitive companies. See Re AT&T Communications of New York, Inc., 173 PUR4th 274 (N.Y.P.S.C. 1996); Re So. New England Tel. Co., Docket No. 95-06-17, March 25, 1997 (Conn.D.P.U.C.).

Study Predicts Changes in Northeast

Lori A. Burkhart

The Reed Consulting Group has released a study, which predicts that in 10 years, no more than six major companies will dominate the Northeast power market in each of the generation, wires and energy services industries.

The study also said the transition to competition primarily would affect generation and energy marketing.

On the Brink of Competition: RCG's Guide to the Northeast Power Market finds that New England and New York are setting the pace for the nation on power and fuel markets convergence.

Idaho Approves Direct Access, Electric Pricing Plot

Phillip S. Cross

The Idaho Pubic Utilities Commission has approved two new electric market experiments to test a market-based pricing tariff proposed by one electric utility and a direct-access pilot program proposed by another.

Market-based pricing. It authorized Idaho Power Co. to offer industrial customers, on an experimental basis, the option of purchasing power under a market-based rate schedule. Customers who contract for 5 to 10 megawatts of firm demand at one delivery point qualify for the pilot tariff program.

Amtrak Saves with Enron Contract

Lori A. Burkhart

Amtrak has entered an agreement with power marketer Enron Capital & Trade Resources to purchase electricity to power nearly 600 Amtrak and commuter trains each day on the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington, D.C., and 100 trains a day on the Keystone Line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa.

Amtrak spends about $40 million a year for electric traction energy, which is purchased from several suppliers. The wholesale contract will reduce those costs nearly one-half.

Utility Recovers Buyout Costs of QF

Phillip S. Cross

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has approved a settlement plan authorizing Jersey Central Power and Light Co. to recover up to $149 million in purchased power contract buyout costs.

Unlikely Alliance to Bid on Plants

Lori A. Burkhart

The Conservation Law Foundation of Boston and AES Corp. have teamed up to bid on the 18 New England Electric System power plants recently put up for sale under the NEES divestiture plan that is part of its restructuring settlement.

The unusual alliance puts the conservation group with a former industry adversary. If the alliance succeeds in its bid, it likely would close up to five of the most polluting plants to reduce acid rain and smog. Also, it would protect about 30,000 acres of land from development.

Water Utility to Treat for Radon Contamination

Phillip S. Cross

Responding to a high level of consumer concern, the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control has directed a water utility to treat supplies from one of its underground supply sources to reduce radon contamination.

The department said Bridgeport Hydraulic Co. could recover the costs over three years through a surcharge on customers in its Litchfield division who use the contaminated water. The department acknowledged there is no public health standard for radon in drinking water.

Southern Co. Buys German Utility

Lori A. Burkhart

Moody's on May 14 said it would maintain a negative outlook on The Southern Company's Prime-1 short-term rating for commercial paper following The Southern Company's announcement that it will acquire a 25-percent ownership interest in Berliner Kraft und Licht AG (Bewag), an electric distribution company in Berlin.

Southern will purchase a 25-percent share for $830 million, pending approval by Berlin's parliament and European regulators. A recently established consortium, consisting of Southern Co.

Mich. Examines Gas Brokering, Appliance Repair

Phillip S. Cross

The Michigan Public Service Commission has authorized Michigan Gas Utilities to increase rates and has ruled that revenues booked by an affiliate that offers administrative, gas brokering and appliance repair services should be included as part of the utility's net income.

The commission said Michigan Gas can increase rates $1.7 million, including an allowance for return on equity of 10.75 percent.

Michigan Gas had excluded from rate calculations revenues found unrelated to utility operations, such as an unregulated affiliate's propane operations.

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