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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1998

common stock.

Otter Tail Power Co. will invest almost $3 million in energy conservation programs over the next two years. The investment, following approval by the Minnesota Department of Public Service, will be used for rebates, grants, energy-saving projects and other energy-efficient services.

Cinergy Services Inc. signed a $26-million, multi-year contract with Convergent Group for consulting and systems integration services.

CNG International Corp., a subsidiary of Consolidated Natural Gas Co., acquired interests in two Argentina gas companies and one Argentina electric company for $78 million. CNG purchased 12.5-percent interests in two gas utility holding companies, Sodigas Pampena and Sodigas Sur, and a 20-percent interest in Buenos Aires Energy Co., from CEI Citicorp Holdings Sociedad Anonima.

FERC

GAS PIPELINE CERTIFICATION. Independence Pipeline Co.

filed an amendment with the commission to its application to build 400 miles of 36-inch diameter pipe from Ohio to Pennsylvania. The amendment seeks authority to negotiate tariff provisions and for one major route change to the eastern portion of the original pipeline route. Independence Pipeline is a general partnership formed by subsidiaries of the Coastal Corp.'s ANR Pipeline Co., Williams' Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corp., and National Fuel Gas Co.

STRANDED COSTS; MUNICIPALIZATION. Commission staff rec-

ommended that the city of Las Cruces, N.M. pay $29.4 million to El Paso Electric Co. if the city condemns EPE's electric distribution facilities and forms a municipal electric utility. FERC staff concluded that EPE had a reasonable expectation of continuing to serve Las Cruces.

Mergers & Acquisitions

SETTING TAKEOVER PRICE. Western Resources Inc. and

Kansas City Power & Light Co. postponed their shareholder meetings set for Jan. 21 to vote on their proposed merger. Utility analysts say the delay is needed because of disagreement over the price that Western Resources will pay for Kansas City P&L. In the year since the merger was announced, the value (em based on a formula agreed to at the time (em has risen beyond the formula's parameters. Now, Western Resource would have to pay $36 per share; it doesn't believe it should pay more than $32 per share.

CHOOSING COMPANY NAME. Pacific Enterprises and Enova

Corp. announced the new name of their soon-to-be combined company: Sempra Energy, from the Latin word "semper," which means always. Stephen L. Baum, Enova president and CEO said Sempra was concise and easy to communicate in several languages.

State PUCs

GAS COST SECURITIZATION. The Montana Public Service

Commission issued a procedural order setting March 18 as the target date for a final order on a Montana Power Co. application. The order will address transition bonds for recovery of gas utility transition costs. Docket No. d97.1, Order No. 6035, Dec. 12, 1997.

PREDATORY PRICING. The California Public Utilities Com-

mission ruled that predatory pricing will not occur in the state's wholesale electric generation market when Southern California Edison Co. auctions its 12 fossil fuel generating plants. The PUC said that predatory pricing requires the ability to eventually charge supra-competitive prices to recoup the initial investment in below-cost, predatory rates. Plant buyers must get market-based pricing approval from the FERC to sell power