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Fortnightly Magazine - August 1997

People

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has elected Susan F. Clark, commissioner of the Florida Public Service Commission, as its representative on the North American Electric Reliability Council. Clark has served as Florida's commissioner since 1991. Commissioner of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Allyson K. Duncan, also was elected to serve as a NARUC representative. Duncan will represent NARUC on the advisory council to the board of directors of EPRI.

Tony A. Prophet, former new business development v.p.

FERC to use GDP to Estimate Equity Return

Lori A. Burkhart

Through two orders issued on June 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has set policy on return on equity for interstate natural gas pipelines (em specifically, the component of long-term dividend growth in the discounted cash flow model.

In both cases, the FERC applied the long-run growth rate of the economy, as measured by the U.S. gross domestic product. (See, Re Northwest Pipeline Corp. Opinion No. 396-B, Docket Nos. RP93-5-025 and RP93-96-005; Re Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co., Docket Nos.

Joules

MCN Investment Corp. and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. plan to build a $45-million liquified natural gas plant near the Delaware-Maryland border. The project, named Continental States Peaking Services L.L.C., would liquify, store and vaporize gas beginning in early 2000. It would connect to the Eastern Shore Natural Gas pipeline system, with access to the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line and Columbia Gas Transmission system.

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Overseas Investment. Michigan certifies plan by Consumers Electric and Gas Co. to bid on the outstanding equity of three electric distribution companies being privatized in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Case No. U-11331, April 14, 1997 (Mi.P.S.C.).

Appliance Repair Rates. New Jersey OKs rates for Public Service Electric and Gas Co.

PacifiCorp To Acquire The Energy Group for $9.6 Billion

Lori A. Burkhart

PacifiCorp has made a cash offer for The Energy Group PLC, a diversified energy company in the U.K., Australia, and U.S. The boards of directors of both companies unanimously approved the transaction, valued at $9.6 billion in debt and equity.

PacifiCorp Holdings Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PacifiCorp, is offering $11.35 per share for The Energy Group. PacifiCorp will assume The Energy Group's $3.8 billion of debt in the transaction.

Michigan to Review Rate Discounts, Effect on Direct Access

Phillip S. Cross

Having issued a comprehensive decision on electric utility restructuring on June 5, the Michigan Public Service Commission nevertheless must yet decide what to do about electric utilities that offer contracts to individual customers with off-the-tariff rate discounts.

Competition Stymied in Illinois, Oregon

Lori A. Burkhart

Bills that would have restructured electric markets in Illinois and Oregon have died due to lack of support.

A bill, H.B. 2821, which would have opened the Oregon electric market to competition by October 2001, has died in the Oregon House, lacking the 31 votes needed for passage. Meanwhile, the Illinois Senate has decided to postpone until the fall its deliberations on the state's proposed electric restructuring bill, which has the approval of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Industrial customers and consumer groups supported the Oregon bill.

LDC Recovers Coal Tar Cleanup Costs

Phillip S. Cross

The Maine Public Utilities Commission has authorized Northern Utilities Inc. to recover coal-tar cleanup costs via a special surcharge.

Under a settlement agreement, ratepayers will pay the full amount of cleanup costs incurred by the LDC on a rolling five-year amortization schedule. The costs will be capped at 4 percent of the company's annual adjusted total firm revenues from sales and transportation customers. Shareholders will bear the carrying costs on all deferred balances during the amortization schedule.

Brownout Credit Card Cost Connecticut Utility

Lori A. Burkhart

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has asked the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control to order a one-time, 25-percent credit on bills of Connecticut Light & Power customers, claiming the threat of brownouts and blackouts has reduced service quality. That translates into about $33 million in customer credits.

Blumenthal also asked that the DPU order additional credits of the greater of $10, or 15 percent, in any month with one day of brownouts or blackouts, and $15 or 20 percent, for two days of problems.

Water Infrastructure Agreement Reached

Phillip S. Cross

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has entered a cooperative agreement with the state's Infrastructure Investment Authority to better coordinate efforts by both agencies to improve the viability of small water and wastewater systems across the state.

The commission said many small systems had not increased rates when needed and had become unprofitable. The systems had been unable to acquire financing to make improvements to maintain good service quality and to meet future regulatory challenges.

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