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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1998

from the plants. a.96-11-046, d. 97-11-075, Nov. 19, 1997 (Cal.P.U.C.).

POWER PLANT AUCTIONS. The New York Public Service Com-

mission has ruled that Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. can bid in the auction of its own plants, subject to

certain conditions. The commission said the utility could participate in the auction because it does not possess horizontal market power and consumers might benefit. The commission made the ruling while approving the utility's revised restructuring plan, which contains an accelerated schedule for full retail access for all customers by May 1, 1999. Large customers can choose alternate suppliers under a special program one year earlier. Case 96-e-0900, Nov. 26, 1997 (N.Y.P.S.C.).

RETURN ON EQUITY. State regulators rejected calls by Public

Service Company of New Hampshire for "a premium rate of return on equity" to reflect increased risk caused by the state's electric restructuring plan. The commission rejected the utility's request for an ROE allowance of 17 to 19 percent and instead set the earnings level at 11 percent. The PUC also approved a temporary rate cut of 6.87 percent for the utility. The commission said the failure by the company to acknowledge that the price of its stock had fallen well before the issuance of the states' electric restructuring plan in 1996 "strains the bounds of credulity." dr 97-059, Order No 22,784, Nov. 6, 1997 (N.H.P.U.C.).

GAS PILOT PROGRAM. The Michigan Public Utilities Com-

mission has authorized Consumers Energy Co. to implement a voluntary experimental pilot program giving up to 300,000 sales customers the opportunity to choose an alternative gas supplier. To protect existing customers, the utility will freeze its noncommodity charges and gas commodity rate for three years. The plan allows the utility to share with ratepayers earnings attributable to noncommodity charges that exceed established levels. Limited base-rate reviews are also provided for in case of major changes in regulations, accounting requirements or taxes. Case No. u-11599, Dec. 19, 1997 (Mi.P.S.C.).

GAS CHOICE PROGRAMS. The Pennsylvania Public Utility

Commission said Equitable Gas Co. can implement a program allowing supply choice for all natural gas customers. The program marks the first full-scale gas unbundling plan to come before the commission. The new plan provides for full assignment to marketers of upstream capacity costs using a three-tier pool structure based on usage. According to the commission, the mandatory assignment of capacity at a federally approved rate would eliminate stranded costs and promote continued system reliability. r-00963858, Dec. 4, 1997 (Pa.P.U.C.).

TELCO EQUITY RETURNS. The Vermont Public Service Board

has reduced rates for a newly formed rural telecommunications local exchange carrier, Vermont Telephone Co. Inc., by 8.62 percent. It also set rate of return on equity at 11.9 percent, the low end of the range produced under the discounted cash flow method accepted in the case. The board said the lower figure was appropriate because the state's rural carriers appeared to face little threat from new market entrants. Docket No. 5904, Nov. 11, 1997 (Vt.P.S.B.).

TELECOM RESALE DISCOUNTS. The New Jersey Board of Public

Utilities issued a generic ruling governing interconnection rates charged by incumbent