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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - April 1 1998

Western Canada Sedimentary Basin to end-users in North American markets.

Restructuring Electric Legislation

New bills are on deck, but many are facing rough sledding.

CONNECTICUT. Legislators had hoped to have a bill ready on

Feb. 4 and go to public hearing within two weeks from that date. The new bill closely resembles last year's failed bill.

INDIANA. SB 431, passed through the Senate Commerce and

Consumer Affairs Committee. But the electric bill is expected either not to make it to the full Senate for a vote, or to have all its key components removed. Because the state's major utilities disagree on restructuring, the legislators want to involve them in discussions to write another restructuring bill that would be considered next year.

NEW MEXICO. The Public Utility Commission sent draft leg-

islation to the legislature proposing to open the state's electric market to retail customer choice beginning Jan. 1, 2001. The PUC also submitted a report to the governor and the Legislature explaining choice from the customers' perspective by using extensive cost and socioeconomic data for all regions of the state. The draft leaves to further commission review the question of stranded cost recovery and functional separation of generation from other utility activities. Under the draft legislation, restructuring must produce stabilized or reduced rates and provide incentives for demand-side management and customer conservation efforts. Case No. 2681, Jan. 28, 1998 (N.M.P.U.C.).

OKLAHOMA. State Sen. Kevin Easley introduced SB 888, which

would have accelerated completion of restructuring studies required by the Electric Restructuring Act of 1997. But the Easley bill is stymied in committee.

SOUTH CAROLINA. The PSC denied a request by an electric pro-

vider, Electric Lite, to restructure the electric industry without legislation. It issued its own proposal for restructuring the state's electric industry, but cautioned that "there may be little to gain and much to lose" from competition. That bill will be pitted against an electric restructuring bill on the table by Rep. Doug Smith, which calls for immediate restructuring of the electric industry. The PSC recommended functional unbundling, a regional ISO and a five-year transition period for full implementation of customer choice. They would examine the need for a power exchange that allows for bilateral contracts. If permitted by the state legislature, utilities would recover "verifiable stranded costs over a reasonable period."

VIRGINIA. Two disparate electric restructuring bills are up for

consideration, one largely authored by Virginia Power. The latter does not commit to a date certain for retail choice, and the former, introduced by state Sen. Jackson Reasor Jr., would phase-in retail competition through 2004. But while Virginia Power wants its bill considered this legislative session, which ended March 14, Reasor prefers both bills be carried over to the 1999 legislative session.

WASHINGTON. State Sen. Lisa Brown introduced SB 6560, the Electric Consumers Protection Act, would require extensive rate disclosure and enact dispute resolution procedures. Also, when marketing power, utilities would have to identify the types of resources used to generate power, and the amount of air emissions produced. But it appears that SB 6560 likely will be killed