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Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1998

Mail

William C. Schaffer

"Water Rates: A Second Look"

As one who has worked in the regulatory environment for the last 23 years, certain accounting treatments deserve a second look to bring us back to basics. I raise the point because of an article I recently read by Dr. Janice A. Beecher and Dr. Patrick C. Mann, "Real Water Rates," published in the July 15, 1997 Public Utility Fortnightly (p. 42). At the outset, allow me to say that the opinion expressed is my own and does not represent the official position of the Delaware Public Service Commission.

In the portion of Dr. Beecher's and Dr.

News Digest

Federal Agencies

Nuclear Plant Fines. The Nuclear Regulatory Commis-

sion has proposed fines totaling $2.1 million against Northeast Nuclear Energy Co. for many violations at the company's Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford, Conn. The fine marks the largest civil penalty ever proposed by the NRC. Northeast Utilities said it will pay the fine, which it called "a necessary and important step toward bringing to closure a very disappointing and difficult chapter in the company's history." The utility said it will not pass the cost onto ratepayers.

Electric Futures.

Just Say "Maybe" NRECA Still Wary of Competition

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

A COLORADO COOPERATIVE REMAINS SPLIT FROM THE NRECA and its general manager says a draft resolution against "federally mandated retail wheeling at this time" won't win it back. Stan R. Lewandowski Jr., Intermountain Rural Association's general manager, says the resolution, which will be considered at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association annual meeting in March, would still make the association sound wishy-washy (see Public Utilities Fortnightly, Nov. 1, 1997, p. 50).

Energy Choice via Internet Gas Now, Power Later

Lori M. Rodgers

TWO WEB SITES ARE VYING FOR THE TITLE OF "FIRST Internet-based market for energy," one on the East Coast, the other out West. When last we checked, each traded only in natural gas, but each had plans in the works to expand to include electricity.

STILL TRADING BY PHONE. Southern California Gas Co. and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. went live on Nov. 19 with their on-line, shareholder-funded, "retail shopping center for natural gas," known as Energy Marketplace (www.energymarketplace.com).

Who Shapes Markets? Regulators or Litigants?

Lori M. Rodgers

NO ONE LIKES TO BE TOLD THAT HE OR SHE ISN'T CEN-

tral to the job at hand. But that was part of the message that Vinod Dar, managing director of Hagler Bailly's restructuring group, told a gathering of state public utility commissioners.

Take electric utility industry restructuring, for example. At the beginning of the game, Dar said, regulators are important because they create the intellectual structure. They are also important at the end game, to codify rules.

Off Peak

SINCE 1994, UTILITY ALLIANCES HAVE DOUBLED ANNUALLY: from 50 that year to more than 300 in 1997.

No longer is an alliance a two-company endeavor. Today's combos involve many partners and objectives, adding skills or products, spreading risk, increasing territory or creating common standards.

According to Andersen Consulting, multi-partner alliances account for an increasing percentage of all utility alliances, from 17 percent in 1994 to 50 percent in 1997.

How Commodity Markets Drive Gas Pipeline Values

Has rate regulation become obsolete for natural gas pipelines?

Mary Lashley Barcella

On Jan. 30, FERC will hold a public conference to review the financial health of the pipeline industry. It will ask whether its regulatory framework still works; whether pipelines can still attract new capital for investment. Does rate policy threaten the financial integrity of the pipeline industry? That very question may come before the Commission. Nevertheless, FERC need not look far for an answer. If the pipeline industry should lie at risk, the cause may go no farther than the Commission itself. In fact, FERC ratemaking policy for gas transportation service now appears to jeopardize the ability of pipelines to recover costs.

A Second Opinion on Network Architecture Why a "closed" system is actually "open"

Chris S. King

METERING issues can be confusing, especially as they relate to

new technologies and electric deregulation. However, only three guiding principles are needed to protect consumers and to ensure fair competition.

First, consumers need accuracy, safety and reliability. These are ensured through adherence to ANSI C12 standards.

Second, they need public, or "open," access to both meters and communications (with passwords to protect privacy).

Reliability or Profit? Why Entergy Quit the Southwest Power Pool

David E. Dismukes and Fred I. Denny

ON OCT. 31, 1997, ENTERGY CORP. AND 16 OTHER MEMBERS

announced their intention to withdraw from the Southwest Power Pool regional reliability council and join the neighboring Southeastern Electric Reliability Council. The announcement shocked the SPP and its members, plus other industry observers and stakeholders.

While significant in number, the withdrawals do not necessarily signal widespread displeasure with SPP's initiatives and performance.

Selling Energy to the Federal Government

Frederick Moring and Raymond F. Monroe

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS THE NATION'S SINGLE largest energy consumer. It buys billions of dollars of electricity and natural gas from utilities each year. Deregulation, and the competition it brings, will change how the government buys these services.

For utilities that signed contracts with the government in the past few years, the future may be here. Utilities must read their contracts carefully; they must know which rules apply to them, and try to comply. Noncompliance can lead to criminal and civil penalties for the utility and its employees.

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