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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - April 15 1998

Federal Agencies

DOE APPROVES POWER EXPORTS. Megawatt-Hour Store, one of the nation's largest power marketers and subsidiary of Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc., has received an export license from the U.S. Department of Energy to trade power directly with Canada provincial governments. The license allows power generated by Con Edison or bought by the licensee to cross the U.S.-Canada border on any transmission line. Power traders can sell electricity directly to Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick.

NRC CONFRONTS DECOMMISSIONING. Shirley Ann Jackson, chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the NRC faces three new problems with electric restructuring: (1) funds for nuclear decommissioning; (2) electricity grid reliability; and (3) cost cutting on nuclear operations.


HOUSE STILL "UNSURE." U.S. Representative Ralph Hall (D-Texas), a member of the House Commerce Committee, addressed utility restructuring on Feb. 10 at the Natural Gas Roundtable in Washington, D.C. Hall said Congress was unsure of what to do regarding a federal bill because more than 40 states already have taken action. Hall was "happy" with the restructuring hearings process (em about 25 Commerce Committee hearings have been held (em and said he believes some "excitement" has been generated as a result. Hall wants states to continue their restructuring efforts, but believes Congress should move forward on a bill dealing with uniquely federal issues.

SENATE WITNESSES WANTED. Sen. Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has called for more workshops to build consensus for electric restructuring legislation. He said he would ask for witnesses from the Clinton Administration to appear before the committee to provide a legislative proposal and offer views on restructuring bills already referred to the committee.

Murkowski expressed dismay at the lack of an Administration proposal." This announcement should be a catalyst for the Administration to formulate its position, but if it tries to implement the unratified Kyoto treaty through electricity restructuring legislation, the Administration needs to rethink that position," Murkowski said. House of Representatives, Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) aligned with Commerce Chairman Tom Bliley (R-Va.) and put an electric restructuring bill on the floor calendar for April.


ANCILLARY SERVICES. The FERC issued its first order setting

guidelines for applicants that want to sell ancillary electric services at market-based rates. Four affiliates of Houston Lighting & Power Co. had applied for the rates. The utility recently agreed to purchase four electric generation plants from Southern California Edison Co., as part of state restructuring. Each affiliate has been assigned a contract to purchase one of the four plants, two of which are designated "must-run." FERC now will entertain requests for market-based pricing of ancillary services case-by-case if supported by analyses demonstrating the seller lacks market power. Docket Nos. er98-927-000, Feb. 11, 1998.

ABANDONED TRANSMISSION. The FERC directed Southern California Edison to share costs 50-50 with customers for abandonment of the Devers-Palo Verde 2 transmission facility, as part of its order setting for hearing executed ISO contracts. Independent energy producers had objected to SoCalEd's proposal to pass through all costs to transmission users, arguing the project