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Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1997

People

Edison International elected former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher to its board and its utility company's board, Southern California Edison. Christopher was elected chair of the executive committees of both boards. Howard P. Allen retired as chair and CEO.

John T. Coughlin, former Wisconsin Public Service commissioner, was elected chair of the PJM Interconnection L.L.C.

Former U.S. Department of State Legal Adviser Conrad K. Harper was elected to the board of both Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., and Public Service Electric and Gas Co.

FERC Easily Approves Second Convergence Combo

Lori A. Burkhart

Marking the second time it had approved a union between an electric utility and a natural gas pipeline company since issuance of its December 1996 merger policy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the merger of Duke Power Co. with PanEnergy Corp.

In its 21-page order issued May 28, the FERC found the merger consistent with the public interest based on an examination of the effect it would have on rates, competition and regulation (Docket No. EC97-13-000).

Joules

ABB Systems Control sold an OASIS gateway system to Cinergy Corp. The system is configured to communicate with the ECAR OASIS node, handling TTC and ATC calculations, transmission service requests and other required transmission path information. Cinergy also bought an ABB enhanced interchange scheduling system, ISplus(.

Northern State Power Co.'s Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant in Minneapolis, Minn. was expected to start up in July or August after a May 9 shutdown to correct a design problem.

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Appliance Repair Business. Responding to complaints from unregulated providers, New York rules that natural gas LDCs must run their appliance repair services through a separate subsidiary. PSC terms its existing policies "anachronistic" and finds that subsidies for appliance repair services are inappropriate. Case 93-G-0804, April 4, 1997 (N.Y.P.S.C.).

DSM Program Design. Michigan appeals court says state PSC exceeded authority and "impermissibly interfered with management decisions" of Detroit Edison Co.

Maine, Montana Consumers to Get Choice

Lori A. Burkhart

The governors of Maine and Montana (em two states with very different electricity markets (em have signed three bills into law to allow competition in the electric and natural gas industries in their respective jurisdictions.

Maine. Gov. Angus King signed an electric restructuring bill that mandates competition in the state starting March 1, 2000.

The Maine law, An Act to Restructure the State's Electric Industry, L.D. 1804, was signed on May 29. It allows for recovery of stranded costs as determined by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

California Electric Restructuring Update

Phillip S. Cross

California regulators have issued a series of important rulings this spring as they continue to move forward with restructuring the state's electric utility industry.

On May 6, the California Public Utilities Commission accelerated the pace of its industry reform by ordering all electric utilities in the state to allow direct access to alternate electricity suppliers for all customers on Jan. 1, 1998.

Whither FERC?

Bruce W. Radford, and Lori A. Burkhart

With electric bills in Congress, and Moler bound for DOE, the Commission needs new vision.

Speaking in May at an informal press luncheon at the Washington International Energy Group in Washington, D.C., FERC Commissioner William L. Massey described the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's role in an open-access electric industry as "nourishing" competition.

South Dakota Court Settles Boundary Dispute

Phillip S. Cross

South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that state regulators erred in authorizing an electric utility to serve an established industrial customer of an electric cooperative.

The commission had found that the Northwestern Public Service Co. could replace Northern Electric Cooperative as the electric supplier for Hub City Inc. Hub had purchased an industrial property containing manufacturing facilities served by the utility and a plant addition served by the co-op.

Illinois Oks Three-Way Interstate Merger

Lori A. Burkhart

The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved the three-way merger of WPL Holdings, IES Industries, and Interstate Power Co. to form Interstate Energy Corp.

The commission agreed that the public will benefit from the cost savings produced by the merger. The companies predict savings of about $750 million for the first 10 years after the merger. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission granted merger approval on March 24. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded hearings in May and had yet to rule at press time.

Minnesota Approves "Interstate" Merger

Phillip S. Cross

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved the merger of Interstate Power Co., IES Industries Inc., and WPL Holdings Inc., joining Illinois, which has also signed off on the deal. (See, Headlines, this issue, p. 21.)

The commission estimated total merger-related savings of $592.1 million to $648.1 million over 10 years. Minnesota ratepayers could save nearly $15.5 million in electric costs and $6.4 million in gas over the same period.

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