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Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1997

People

THAINE J. MICHIE, general manager of the Platte River Power authority, was named president of the American Public Power Association. Michie has more than 30 years experience in the electric power industry; he has served on the APPA board since 1990.

Lanny P. Waguespack was chosen to head CMS Gas Transmission and Storage Co.'s new Denver office. He also was named director of business development in the western U.S. for the CMS Energy Corp. unit.

Executives at two subsidiaries of Aquarion Cos. were elected to leadership positions at industry associations. Leendert T.

PUC Says Futures Trading Could Undermine PX

Phillip S. Cross

The California Public Utilities Commission, citing restrictions that force electric utilities to buy and sell power through the state's power exchange, has rejected a request by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., to use energy-related financial derivatives (em futures, swaps and options, etc. (em to manage risk associated with volatility in gas and electric commodity markets.

According to the commission, the proposal by PG&E for blanket authority to employ derivatives would violate several aspects of its electric restructuring policy.

Joules

CON EDISON renamed two unregulated subsidiaries: ProMark Energy Inc. (now Con Edison Solutions Inc.) and Gramercy Development Inc. (now Con Edison Development Inc.). Con Edison Solutions will provide electricity, natural gas and oil to commercial and residential customers in the Northeast. Con Edison Development will invest in energy and nonenergy business in the U.S. and overseas.

AES Corp. has begun construction of an 830-megawatt, gas-fired combined-cycle power plant in San Nicolás, Argentina. Nichimen Corp.

Utilities Must Educate, Again

Phillip S. Cross

Seeking to wrest control of public relations for electric competition from private "stakeholders," the California Public Utilities Commission has authorized the state's three largest investor-owned electric utilities (em Pacific Gas and Electric Co., San Diego Gas and Electric Co. and Southern California Edison Co. (em to spend $89.3 million for consumer education on electric restructuring, through mass media, mail, local outreach and a toll-free call center.

In a separate order, the PUC authorized PacifiCorp and Sierra Pacific Power Co.

Buyers Don't Want Bundled Services

Lori A. Burkhart

While some utilities would like to sell customers electricity bundled with local and long-distance telephone and cable television, consumers may not be interested, according to a recent survey.

The RKS National Residential Customer Assessment found that residential customers view bundled service offerings with suspicion.

"These latest findings call into question the concept of cross-functional mergers (em the idea of combining a variety of energy and communications services under a single brand for the residential market," said David J. Reichman, RKS research president.

Utility Retain Control Over "Dispersed" Cogen Plant

Phillip S. Cross

A cogeneration project approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission will allow Virginia Electric and Power Co., the utility sponsor, to lease equipment to Chesapeake Paper Products Co., the project host (which will operate the gas-fired plant), and yet retain contractual rights to control certain aspects of operations and maintenance.

At the same time, however, the commission has nixed VEPCO's idea of organizing an affiliate "as an electric utility" to own and operate a pipeline lateral to supply natural gas to the plant.

Georgia Proposes Gas Rags

Lori A. Burkhart

The Georgia Public Service Commission has established standards for issuing certificates to marketers to compete under the state's Natural Gas Competition and Deregulation Act.

Under the standards, candidates must show their creditworthiness. To compete, a marketer must prove that its capital base or other financial resources can withstand the business and financial risk and absorb losses that might occur in providing firm gas service to retail customers.

S.B. 215, which was signed into law in April, established a regulatory framework to deregulate the gas industry.

California Accord to Cure Market Power Problems

Phillip S. Cross

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved an agreement that will resolve a multifaceted case concerning pricing of services and operation of intrastate natural gas pipeline facilities by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

The agreement, known as the "Gas Accord," also initiated significant changes in the way PG&E operates its business by increasing competition and customer choice. To mitigate the effects of market power held by the company, the commission imposed a series of discounting restrictions on PG&E.

Branding Ensures Brown Isn't Green on Power Products

Lori A. Burkhart

California-based environmental and consumer groups have launched the nation's first voluntary certification and verification program for environmentally preferred electric products.

The Green-e Renewable Electricity Branding Program aims to help consumers choose environmentally friendly or "green" products. Californians soon will see promotional materials from marketers with the Green-e Program's certification on electric products that contain at least 50-percent renewable electric content.

Off Peak

NOx Joke

EPA Proposal Has IOUs Fuming

Electric utilities single-handedly to reduce smog.

MIDWEST AND OHIO VALLEY STATES ARE EXPECTED to get hit hardest by the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to reduce smog.

Ohio, for example, is home to American Electric Power, one of the biggest contributors of NOx emissions at nearly a half million pounds per year (see chart).

The EPA proposed Oct. 10 that 22 states reduce nitrogen oxide (em a key element of smog (em citing electric utilities as the main source.

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