After four years and four tries, El Paso Electric Co. (EPE) has finally got a plan, and a ticket out of bankruptcy. EPE's fourth amended reorganization plan has been approved by the federal...
Kilowatts by Choice, Ready or Not
Ed five-year plan to reduce rates for all customers by more than $1 billion. A plan approved in July for New York State Electric & Gas Corp. will allow its customers to purchase electricity on the open market by Aug. 1, 1999.
Washington. Puget Sound Energy applied for authority to open a pilot program on July 1 to give 10 percent of its electric customers choice. The pilot is a follow-up to last November's program that allowed large industrial customers to purchase energy at market costs. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Committee approved the new program on Aug. 14; %n18%n customers will be eligible to take service from alternate providers from Nov. 1, 1997 through December 1999.
Washington Water Power has residential and industrial pilots in place: two alternate suppliers are participating in the residential pilot, while suppliers are serving 10 industrials under the Direct Access Delivery Service program.
Next on the List?
The following states are well on their way to competition, with pilot programs scheduled either to begin or awaiting approval and, in some cases, legislation in the works.
Missouri. Union Electric, and Empire District Electric Co. have filed applications with the PSC to initiate pilots. Hearings were held on the latter in July, but the PSC hadn't acted on either application at press time. Work was going forward with the 35-member Retail Electric Competition Task Force, appointed by the PSC in May. A market report is due Nov. 4; all others are due Feb. 15, 1998.
Oregon. The state's first two customer choice programs were filed with the Oregon PUC within weeks of each other. Portland General Electric, on Aug. 1, filed its pilot for 50,000 residents, small business and commercial customers in St. Helens, Sandy, Oregon City and Hillsboro. It would also be open to industrial customers or groups of customers anywhere in the state with a minimum of 5 MW of demand. In September, the PUC staff suspended the filing because of time constraints. The tariff requires PUC approval of alternate ESPs; none were certified by the proposed Oct. 1 start-up date.
Then, on Sept. 2, Portland General Electric announced its plan for all customers, which was promised as part of the PGE-Enron merger. No decision is expected on that filing until "very late in 1998," according to the commission. %n19%n One interesting component of the pilot, which is not in the full plan, is that PGE will pay participating service providers as much as $4 per customer, per month as an incentive to participate, since it targets such a small population. The credit may not be implemented until other plan issues are resolved, a spokesperson says. PacifiCorp, in spite of media announcements about its proposed program for large industrial customers, had not formally filed with the commission at press time.
Texas. In July, Fort Worth-based Texas-New Mexico Power Co., submitted a plan to the PUC for total customer choice (em not an experiment or pilot. The plan calls for gradual reductions in base rates for commercial, residential and municipal customers over a five-year transition period (Jan.