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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - April 1 1998

related to Florida's largest municipal bond default. The now-shut-down plants are owned by Okeelanta Power and Osceola Power Ltd. Partnership, which are affiliates of PG&E Corp., Bechtel Enterprises, and Flo-Sun Inc. Florida Power & Light entered a contract to purchase the output, but then argued it had no further obligation to continue the purchases because operating deadlines were not met. The owners counter-sued the utility for the $1.8 billion it contracted to pay over 30 years.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS RETREAT. Texas U.S. District Judge Joe Kendall issued a temporary stay of his Dec. 31 ruling striking down key parts of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, pending an appeal by the Federal Communications Commission and long-distance companies. Kendall had found that the Act inflicted serious financial punishment on Bell System operating companies by keeping them out of the long-

distance business. SBC Communications, Inc. v. FCC, No. CIV.A. 7:97-cv-163-x, Dec. 31, 1997 (N.D.Tex.).

WATER PLANT RATE BASE. A Florida appeals court has struck down a state PSC ruling for arbitrarily changing a rate-base method for a wastewater treatment plant. It faulted the PSC for comparing plant capacity against annual average daily flow in place of using the peak-month average daily flow. Florida Cities Water Co. v. Fla. PSC, No. 96-3812, Jan. 12, 1998 1998 WL 5407 (Fla.App.).

State PUCs

LOCAL TELCO COMPETITION. The North Carolina Utilities Com-

mission has turned down a request by Time Warner Communications of North Carolina to offer competitive local exchange telephone service within the service territory of an established local exchange carrier, ALLTEL Carolina Inc., deciding that ALLTEL did not lose an exemption protecting its franchise territory from competition simply because one of its affiliates, ALLTEL Communications, had received certification as a competitive local carrier. (Under the state's telephone reform law, LEC franchise territories with less than 200,000 access lines are exempt from competition if the incumbent carrier does not compete outside its area or elect price regulation.) Docket No. p-472, Sub 6, Jan 7, 1998 (N.C.U.C.).

LOCAL TELCO RATES. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities

approved a schedule of rates for local exchange services to be offered by MFS Intelenet of New Jersey Inc., a new entrant in the state's local telephone market. In doing so it ruled that a detailed cost review was not justified because the new carrier has no captive customers, and any customers it might attract can easily obtain local service from Bell Atlantic-New Jersey Inc., the incumbent carrier. The board added that the proposed rates could not be considered unreasonable considering the "competitive posture" of the new carrier, and the "procompetitive policies of both federal and state law." Docket No. tt97010043, Jan. 7, 1998 (N.J.B.P.U.).

NEED FOR POWER. The Alabama Public Service Commis-

sion authorized Alabama Power Co. to build an 800-megawatt, combined-cycle generating unit at its existing Barry Steam Plant facility. The PSC rejected claims by independent power producers that the utility had failed adequately to consider whether retail competition would mitigate its need for power. The commission said that the utility must clearly have additional capacity by 2001 to maintain reliable