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Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1997

N.Y. Proposes ESCO Rules, Tables Enron Plan

Lori A. Burkhart

Finding it "too early" to consider proposals by Enron and Wheeled Electric Power to assign the state's electric utility customers to retail competitive energy service companies, the New York Public Service Commission nevertheless has mapped out a proposal to introduce competition in retail energy markets through a state-established retail provider of last resort.

The commission also would like to make information readily available to allow consumers to make informed choices. The proposed policy would permit adequate oversight of the market to ensure its fair operation (Opinion No.

QF Antitrust Complaint Dismissed

Phillip S. Cross

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled that federal antitrust laws provide no remedy for complaints by a qualifying cogeneration facility that an electric utility was impermissibly curtailing purchases under its power purchase contract with the QF.

It said that Pennsylvania's recently enacted electric restructuring law "comes too late" to make the QF's complaint a valid one.

Schuylkill Energy Resources Inc., owner and operator of an anthracite coal refuse-fired QF in Shenandoah, Pa., had filed an antitrust claim against Pennsylvania Power and Light Co.

Massachusetts Utilities File Electric Choice Plan

Lori A.Burkhart

Eastern Edison Co. and Montaup Electric Co., both subsidiaries of Eastern Utilities Associates, have each filed an agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to introduce electric industry competition.

The target date for introduction of competition is Jan. 1, 1998, when Eastern Edison customers would experience a 10-percent rate cut or could choose an alternate electric supplier. Retail rates would be frozen until Dec. 31, 2000. But customers staying with the utility would be offered a price starting at 2.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Georgia Prepares for Retail Gas Competition

Phillip S. Cross

Under a new law deregulating the state's natural gas market, the Georgia Public Service Commission must enact regulations by Dec. 31, 1997, governing the certification of gas marketers and associated service quality standards and customer complaint procedures.

Peggy Welsh Winds Up: NARUC's New Exec Wants PUCs to Network with Congress Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.

"When they come to town ... we'll ... accompany them to Capitol Hill ... to make their trip to Washington a 'two-fer,' if you will."

Paul Rodgers knocked NARUC on its ear last July when he announced his resignation as executive of that century-old association.

Rodgers, also general counsel, had served the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners for more than 30 years.

His unexpected move came in the midst of strategic planning at NARUC.

Foreign Investment: Moody's Doubts Bondholder Benefits

Lori A. Burkhart

A new report from Moody's Investors Service finds that foreign investments often offer U.S. electric utility shareholders the prospect of higher returns, but hold little immediate upside benefits for bondholders.

The report, Some Investments Riskier Than Others in Wave of Overseas Expansion by U.S. Electric Utilities, finds that for bondholders, such investments detract from alternative uses of free cash flow. The bondholder could apply the invested money to debt service or repayment, or growing retained earnings to offset potential write-offs of stranded investment.

Off Peak

Minnesota has lots of drafts, but no final plan.

So you think your state has been busy? In Minnesota, the 1997 legislative session saw more than a dozen new bills introduced on electric, gas and energy issues.

At the start of the session many expected that electric deregulation would play a major part in the legislative program. However, Gov. Carlson reports now that legislators will defer work on the issue until the 1998 session. Several electric industry deregulation bills were introduced at the end of the session, but when last we checked no hearings had been held.

Does Activity-Based Cost Management Have Any Relevance for Electricity?

Sidney J. Baxendale, and Michael J. Spurlock

When viewed as serving market segments, utilities differ little from manufacturing companies, where most costs are shared among products and processes.

Activity-based cost management has had a tremendous impact on manufacturing enterprises; and its use has spread to some service industries such as banking, insurance and health care. ABCM encompasses two well-known management concepts: activity-based costing and activity-based management. Now that electric utilities are gearing up for competition, it is time to ask if ABCM has any relevance in the public utility industry.

N.Y. Would Reimburse Bypassed QFs

Lori A. Burkhart

The New York Public Service Commission has set up procedures to reimburse qualifying cogeneration and small power production facilities if any of the state's seven investor-owned electric utilities should curtail purchases of power from the QFs. The Independent Power Producers of New York Inc. blasted the decision.

The PSC said it will review QF requests for reimbursement if a utility is alleged to have curtailed purchases unfairly.

Electric vs. Gas Cont...

Dr. William Ryan; and Ed Reid

Mr. Lindsay's March 1 letter (PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY, p. 6) requires some further discussion. We do agree that reducing cooling seasonal peak electric demand is desirable. Lessening the electric infrastructure's environmental effects and electric system failures, as we witnessed in the summer of 1996, is to the public good. However, thermal storage systems have siting issues and the potential to run out of capacity at the worst possible time on peak days.

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