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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - May 1 1998

source of coal for the Navaho and Mohave power plants, which compete against PacifiCorp generation. The FTC noted that such control could give a merged PacifiCorp/Peabody both "the incentive and the ability" to raise coal supply prices to competing generators. The proposed consent agreement calls for PacifiCorp to divest the two coal mines and to build a "firewall" forbidding Peabody from disclosing to PacifiCorp any nonpublic information about some of its coal-buying customers. File No. 971-0091, Feb. 18, 1998; 63 Fed.Reg. 9551 (Feb. 25, 1998).

NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL. Forty-one nuclear-owning electric utilities have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to order the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a program immediately to begin disposing of nuclear waste. The utilities asked the court to enforce its Nov. 14, 1997 order stating that DOE has an unconditional obligation to dispose of the utilities' spent nuclear fuel by Jan. 31, 1998. The utilities seek relief from further contributions into the Nuclear Waste Fund and ask the court to bar the federal government from terminating contracts for waste disposal.

Business Wire

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY has awarded ERI Services, a subsidiary of Equitable Resources Inc., a contract valued at $150 million for energy savings performance contracting services. ERI Services will install energy-saving technologies and equipment in federal buildings with no up-front costs to the government. For a set number of years, ERI Services will receive a percentage of the energy savings from the installations.

Minnesota Power intends to file with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission the organization of its new telecommunications subsidiary, MP Telecom. Initially MP Telecom will provide additional high-speed and large-capacity communications largely in wholesale markets.

CellNet Data Systems Inc. will provide informational metering data services to 71 Circuit City sites including retail stores and distribution and service centers. CellNet will provide service on a monthly per-meter basis and will deliver hourly intervals of electricity consumption data daily over CellNet's Web site, www.myEnergyInfo.com.

Dick Hahn, vice president of technology at Boston Edison, said electric ratepayers will benefit from its joint venture with Residential Communications Network, because it built a new fiberoptic network for its electric business at no additional cost to ratepayers (em a $3-million savings. Hahn was responding to an investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy into whether the utility improperly subsidized a cable television and telecommunications venture through unregulated subsidiary The Boston Energy Technology Group.

Congress

ELECTRICITY CAUCUS ROLE. U.S. Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.), Commerce Committee chairman of the House of Representatives, on March 2 wrote to Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, seeking official acknowledgment of the Congressional Electricity Caucus as a congressional membership organization. The group was formed to bring competition to America's electric markets by a date certain. Bliley would serve as co-chair along with Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Charles "Chip" Pickering Jr. (R-Mas). It plans to educate Congress on public policy questions raised by increasing competition among electric suppliers, but will not advocate any one legislative proposal over another.

Studies & Reports

UK ELECTRIC INDUSTRY. Standard & Poor's