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Kilowatts by Choice, Ready or Not

Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 1997

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in September by MidAmerican Energy of Des Moines. The Market Access Service project was created with the Iowa Industrial Energy Group and would allow the utility's 50 largest customers (em those with at least 4 MW of load (em to participate in the first year of a two-year introductory phase. A spokesperson for MidAmerican says they would like the pilot to start in 1997 or early 1998, depending on when the plan receives regulatory approval.

New Jersey. The Garden State represents a hybrid (em on the one hand, the Board of Public Utilities has issued a formal order setting deadlines for full-scale, permanent retail choice for electric consumers, but the board's decisions carry the status of recommendations only, and must go before the state Legislature before becoming effective.

The board voted in May to accelerate deadlines for retail choice: 10 percent of customers by October 1998, 20 percent by January 1999 and all ratepayers by July 2000. %n14%n In July, it opened dockets for rate unbundling, stranded cost filings and restructuring plans to be filed by Atlantic City Electric, Jersey Central Power & Light, Public Service Electric and Gas Co., and Rockland Electric Co. Those dates accelerate the timetable that had been announced in January. %n15%n

Earlier this year, the BPU approved the state's first, and so far only, retail choice pilot, conducted by GPU Energy. %n16%n The first energy provider to participate, Conectiv Energy, began supplying power to nearly 10,000 residential and 850 commercial and industrial customers (em 86 percent of Monroe Township's population (em in September. About 13 percent of the township decided to stay with GPU Energy. Conectiv, a division of Delmarva Power & Light Co., hopes to provide 5-percent savings.

New Mexico. This spring, the PUC approved a transition-to-competition plan for Texas-New Mexico Power Co. Rates now are frozen for three years; customers will be allowed to choose their electricity supplier beginning May 1, 2000. In September, Public Service Company of New Mexico submitted a full retail choice plan to the PUC and to a state legislative committee. PNM is asking for statewide retail competition by January 2001 and "possible securitization" of stranded asset recovery and other transition costs. Commission action was expected by October; whether the Legislature will take up the electric restructuring issue this year or next was not known at press time.

New York. An early pilot plan for Orange & Rockland Utilities Inc., which began in the summer 1996, is no longer alone. On Sept. 17, the commission gave final approval of tariffs and terms and conditions for a pilot program for commercial farmers and food processors in neighboring territories. %n17%n Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., New York State Electric & Gas Corp., and Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corp. will begin offering the program Nov. 1. Rochester Gas & Electric will begin its program Feb. 1, 1998.

On Sept. 10, the commission also OK'd Consolidated Edison Co.'s competitive plan, which will initiate electricity choice for part of its residential and commercial market in mid-1998. The PSC also approved a Con