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Kilowatts by Choice, Ready or Not

Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 1997

1, 1998 through Dec. 31, 2002) and guaranteed rate reductions during the transition. The PUC rejected an earlier T-NMP plan last year that had called for a rate freeze and community, rather than individual customer, choice. State legislation died this year and won't be taken up again until 1999.

Conducting Studies, Gathering Data

Finally, there are states perhaps waiting for cues for some more advanced programs. Many are conducting studies.

Connecticut. Legislators in Connecticut came close to voting on a bill that would have brought customer choice to the state, but it was withdrawn at the last minute in May. Now, technically, the Department of Public Utility Control can't take any action on electric industry restructuring until state legislators pass a bill, but that doesn't mean the staff is sitting on its hands. A spokesperson said they are working to determine what dockets and customer outreach programs, for example, they will need.

Delaware. An August draft report, prepared by PSC staff, recommends that retail choice be phased in for all customers of Delmarva Power & Light Co., and the Delaware Electric Cooperative, from April 1999 through April 2003 (25 percent of load for each customer class per year). Staff admitted, though, that "increased competition in Delaware may not produce the level of economic benefits that are anticipated in states with higher electricity prices, and may even create new risks for electricity customers." A final draft is due to the PSC Nov. 21. The PSC will deliver a final report to the Delaware House of Representatives by Jan. 31, 1998.

Georgia. Commission staff presented its Proposed Plan for Studying Restructuring Issues, 1997-2001 in July. Five focus groups (Statutory Changes, Principles to Consider, System Operations, Tax Implications of Restructuring, Stranded Cost) also presented their findings. The General Assembly is looking separately at the issue.

Hawaii. The commission opened a generic docket in December and should have a report by early next year. Milton Higa, the PSC's administrative director, says the commission is acting on its own; the legislation isn't "under siege" by customers, and there aren't many large industrial customers that could take up the cause, as has happened in mainland states. "We're not oblivious to what's going on, but there are physical and environmental constraints we're cognizant of" (em in particular the fact that there are no transmission links between the islands.

Indiana. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission presented its annual "Regulatory Flexibility" reports to the General Assembly (see, www.ai.org/iurc/electric/restruct.html.) A legislative committee is studying the issue and could have a final draft report submitted to the General Assembly as early as this month.

Kansas. The state is halfway through a governor-mandated, three-year study period.

No pilot programs have been filed with the Kansas Corporation Commission yet, but Midwest Energy Inc., a co-op in Hays, plans to file its plan this fall, which would make customer choice available to all its members. "Our customers own the system," a spokesperson said. "How dare we say they can't use it fully?"

A study by The National Regulatory Research Institute at the request of the