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Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1998

Should Metering Stay at the Stand-Alone Disco?

George R. Pleat

MANY STATES ARE CONSIDERING THE IDEA OF opening billing and metering to competition at traditional distribution companies. %n1%n Electric utility executives can no longer assume that a regulated monopoly distribution company, or "disco," will retain control of both the "wires" function and billing and metering services. %n2%n

This new prospect raises questions: Should a disco seek to retain billing and metering as a regulated monopoly, complete with the obligation to serve all customers requesting electric connections?

SPP's Transmission Pricing

Bruce W. Radford

On Dec. 19, attorneys for Southwest Power Pool Inc., filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington D.C., an open-access transmission tariff to provide for "one-stop-shopping" for short-term firm and non-firm point-to-point transmission service across seven southwestern states, SPP submitted the tariff as agent for its participating member public utilities and on behalf of all of its members. See, FERC Docket No. ER98-1163.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

Gas utility executives never tire of telling how the regulators won't let them make money any money selling gas.

Interstate Power Co., which distributes both gas and electricity in Illinois, laments that no one understands: "Almost all small volume customers do not realize that their local distribution company does not make any money on the sale of gas¼ even large transportation customers have difficulty dealing with the concept."

So why would any LDC oppose retail gas competition?

People

The American Gas Association elected its board of directors for 1997-98. David W. Biegler, president and COO of Texas Utilities Co., was elected chairman. Richard E. Terry, chairman and CEO of Peoples Energy Corp., was elected first vice chairman and Gary L. Neale, chairman, president and CEO of Northern Indiana Public Service Co., was chosen second vice chairman.

Beth Emery was appointed vice president and general counsel to the California Independent System Operator executive management team. Emery was previously a partner in the law firm of Sutherland, Asbil & Brennan.

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.

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