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Courts & Commissions

Fortnightly Magazine - December 1997

an LEC has opened its own system to competition enough to justify allowing it to compete against long-distance carriers.

The checklist includes the requirement that the LEC must provide access and interconnection services to "one or more unaffiliated competing providers of telephone exchange service¼ to business and residential subscribers." Re Illinois Bell Tel. Co., No. 96-0404, Aug. 4, 1997 (Ill.C.C.).

WATER UTILITY LOSES BIDFOR EXCLUSIVE TERRITORY

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has ruled there is no basis under state law to grant exclusive service territories to water utilities.

The commission had authorized Indiana-America Water Co. to continue to provide water service to a residential subdivision in an area already served by another utility. Indiana-American began serving the new customers after negotiating a main extension agreement with the developer of the subdivision.

The incumbent utility in the area, Flowing Wells Inc., a subsidiary of Citizens Utilities Co., had claimed that it was located better to serve the area and that its rates were lower than Indiana-American. It also said its existing customers would benefit from the new customers. The utility had asked the commission to declare that it had an exclusive right to serve the residential area.

The commission said that it could find no statutory basis to grant exclusive territories or to draw boundary lines to resolve disputes between water utilities. Re Flowing Wells Inc., Case No. 40446, July 16, 1997 (Ind.U.R.C.).

KN TO EXPAND RETAIL CHOICE

Although customers have complained about their bills, the Wyoming Public Service Commission has allowed KN Energy Inc. to expand its choice program, explaining that most participants have experienced significant savings.

The commission said the program's "facilities charge" - which allows the LDC to recover non-gas costs of delivering supplies to participating customers - had created customer confusion and complaints. It ordered the company to increase its efforts to educate customers, and to provide bill verification services and improve the format of the bill. Re KN Energy Inc., Docket No. 30004-gt-95-37, April 24, 1997 (Wyo.P.S.C.).

The commission found that nearly 95 percent of customers in the Choice Gas Service Program had saved 7 percent to 12 percent on their energy bills. The program was first approved by the commission in early 1996 (See, Re KN Energy Inc., 169 PUR4th 1 (1996).)

OHIO COURT OKs SUB-COST CONTRACT

The Ohio Supreme Court has overturned a ruling by the Ohio Public Utilities Commission that had barred Ohio Edison from providing cooling-load power to a county jail below cost.

The court found that state law statute (R.C. 4905.33) allows a public utility to grant reduced-rate utility service to a political subdivision, such as the county jail. It said such authority was not limited by the statute, which prohibits below-cost utility service contracts. Ohio Edison Co. v. Ohio PUC, et al., No. 95-2575, 678 N.E.2d 922, 78 Ohio St.3d 466, May 21, 1997 (Ohio).

The commission earlier had ruled Ohio Edison had violated the statute by providing cooling-load power to a county jail below-cost. See, Youngstown Thermal, Ltd. Partnership v. Ohio Edison Co., 163 PUR4th 471 (Ohio P.U.C.1995); and Youngstown Thermal