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Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1997

Uncooperative Cooperatives?

Terry Christenberry

Your article in the July 1, 1997 issue of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY regarding co-ops and competition was very much on target ("Co-ops and Competition: Still a United Front?" p. 16). Our firm spends a significant amount of time providing financial advice to some of the more progressive rural electric cooperatives and have had some association with a few of the organizations mentioned in your article.

We are strongly pro-cooperative. Co-ops continue to provide high-quality electric, gas and other services to significant numbers of Americans, both rural and urban dwellers.

Off Peak

Sally and Kristina Sepetys

More low-cost states seen joining the move toward electric restructuring.

Six months ago, those states with the highest electric prices appeared the furthest along on the path to electric industry restructuring. That is no longer the case.

Today, even those states that can boast of lower-than-average rates are exploring avenues toward more competition, as shown below. The table groups states into five tiers, by the level of activity to date. These activities include initiatives by legislatures, regulatory commissions, utilities and other parties.

The Rewards of Reliability

Gregory S. Vassell

As one of the early voices in the "reliability debate," urging all of us not to lose sight of the importance of reliability of electric bulk power supply (see, for example, my article in the Oct. 11, 1990, issue of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY, on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Northeast Blackout of 1965), I applaud the FORTNIGHTLY for sponsoring a forum on "Reliability, Transmission and Competition" in its June 1, 1997 issue (p. 45). By doing so, your magazine has provided an important public service.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

I've been learning about venture capital funds for electric utilities. The lesson has run the gamut: from competition to cannibalization; from portfolios to the laws of thermodynamics; from the next new thing to the renaissance of a 19th-century technology.

Some might ask: Isn't venture capital just like gambling? Not so, say execs from two utilities now getting their feet wet in a venture fund. All the same, this story will take us to Atlantic City casinos before it's done.

People

Aquila Energy, a subsidiary of UtiliCorp United, has hired David H. Stevenson former marketing v.p. of Duke/Louis Dreyfus, as v.p. power marketing for its mid-continent and western regions.

Charles Falcone, who retired as American Electric Power's system power markets senior v.p., was named project managing director of the New York State Power Pool's Independent System Operator. Falcone served as an official with the U.S. Department of Energy for several years before joining AEP.

Ohio Electric Utility Institute has elected William J. Grealis as board chair and president.

Joules

The Northwest Power Planning Council is accepting comments on a revision of its Fourth Northwest Power Plan through Oct. 31. The plan is the latest created by the council since 1983. It reviews industry developments in generation, conservation, gas and electric. It also examines institutions created in response to increasing competition and policy evolution. The draft reflects recommendations of the Comprehensive Review of the Northwest Energy System and suggests ways to carry out many of those recommendations. For a copy (Document 97-11), call (800) 222-3355.

NEES to Hold First Auction

Lori A. Burkhart

New England Electric System has selected 12 companies from the U.S. and Europe to take part in an auction to supply electricity to Massachusetts and Rhode Island "standard offer" customers when retail competition begins.

Standard-offer service is set at seven years in Massachusetts and 12 years in Rhode Island. When competition begins, slated for Jan. 1, 1998 in both states, consumers can choose a new energy supplier through the standard offer.

Baltimore Court Keeps Merger Case

Lori A. Burkhart

The chief executive officers of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and Potomac Electric Power Co. have expressed disappointment over a July 28 decision by a Baltimore County judge denying a motion to return their proposed merger case to the Maryland Public Service Commission.

The judge's decision will keep the merger proceeding before the Baltimore County Circuit Court.

"As we previously stated and made very clear to the court, we cannot merge in accordance with the terms of the current PSC order," said BGE Chair Christian Poindexter and PEPCO Chair Edward F. Mitchell.

TVA, Utilities Settle Lawsuit

Lori A. Burkhart

Five utilities suing the Tennessee Valley Authority for allegedly making electric sales to unauthorized third parties for resale outside its service territory have agreed to a joint settlement.

The settlement calls for TVA only to sell or deliver power to authorized exchange power companies. TVA agreed not to knowingly enter any exchange power transactions if the purchaser buys that power intending to resell it at wholesale to an unauthorized entity. TVA will reiterate its contract requirements with its exchange power companies.

Northeast Utilities Settles Nuclear Management

Lori A. Burkhart

Northeast Utilities Co. has reached an agreement in principle with its shareholders who had claimed that certain NU trustees and officers had failed to manage prudently the affairs of the utility, causing problems for its nuclear power program.

The settlement calls for insurers of those trustees and officers named in the suit to pay NU $25 million, less attorney's fees. NU has agreed to certain corporate governance changes. The agreement was reached after more than eight months of mediation by retired U.S. District Judge Robert C.

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