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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1998

wind power to include in a green-power pricing tariff. Case No. 2740, Sept. 30, 1997 (N.M.P.U.C.).

Fuel Supply Hedging. The Maine commission extended an earlier ruling permitting Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. to enter price-hedge agreements for both natural gas and oil supply requirements. The new authorization runs through Feb. 29, 2000, to coincide with the scheduled initiation of retail competition in the state on March 1 of the same year. Docket No. 97-738, Oct. 14, 1997 (Me.P.U.C.).

Water Ratemaking Issues. The Pennsylvania PUC approved a controversial long-term incentive rate contract that Consumers Pennsylvania Water Co. claimed was necessary to retain a large industrial user. It also approved a 10.98-percent rate of return on equity and allowed the company to recover additional expenses for an admittedly high supply loss due to the acquisition of troubled water companies in recent years. Finally, the PUC reversed a ruling by the administrative law judge in the case and allowed the company to retain all gains from the sale of watershed land it had acquired when it purchased two water systems. Docket Nos. r-00973869, Oct. 14, 1997 (Pa.P.U.C.).

Natural Gas Choice. The Minnesota PUC has decided

to accelerate its review of competition in the state's natural gas industry. Several parties, including Enron Capital & Trade Resources Corp., want the commission to adopt rules to increase competition by requiring gas utilities to stop selling supplies by 2003 and instead distribute gas sold by other vendors. While agreeing that customer choice in the local gas market can "drive down price, improve quality, and spur technological innovation," the PUC does not plan to introduce competition yet, but convened a working group to study such a move. Docket No. g-999/r-97-1317, Oct. 28, 1997 (Minn.P.U.C.).

Telecom Certification. Noticing an increase in merger-

and acquisition-related activity in telecommunications, the Alabama commission decided to step up enforcement of its certification and notification rules for the industry. The commission said that all acquiring entities that do not otherwise possess authority to provide certain services must seek a certificate of public convenience. Docket 15957, Oct .23, 1997 (Ala.P.S.C.).

PBR Plans. The Oregon PUC rejected an agreement to

institute a new form of regulation for Pacific Power and Light Co., finding that the proposed performance-based rate plan would "likely result in higher rates than would be charged under traditional regulation." The utility, the state Department of Energy, the Citizens' Utility Board and major environmental groups had supported the plan. The commission agreed to keep the case open and directed parties to provide comments on how regulatory reforms might benefit ratepayers. The rejected plan included a 9.1-percent increase in consumer rates and a separate systems benefit charge to cover ongoing demand-side management and renewables incentives. Re PacifiCorp, dba Pacific Power & Light Co., UE 94 (Phase II, Order No. 97-371, Sept, 1997 (Ore.P.U.C.).

Public Policy Programs. The California PUC set dead-

lines of Oct. 1, 1998 and Jan. 1, 1999, respectively, to create advisory boards to oversee energy efficiency and low-income programs. The commission also authorized funding for advisory board start-up costs of $905,300 for energy efficiency and $839,000