respectively, during the first three years of implementation. The company has agreed to absorb almost $2 billion in stranded costs on generation investment and purchased power contracts. The order also approved the utility's Master Restructuring Agreement, which will terminate, restructure or amend 29 purchased power contracts with 16 independent power producers. Case 94-e-0098, Feb. 24, 1997 (N.Y.P.S.C.).
WATER UTILITY RETURNS. The Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control ruled that ongoing sales of surplus watershed property by Birmingham Utilities Inc. would reduce perception of financial risk among investors despite the company's relatively small size. It authorized Birmingham Utilities Inc. to increase water rates by 4.1 percent and adopted a rate of return of 12.16 percent. It noted the company's decision to reduce its dividend by 20 percent during 1997 showed that its board of directors was optimistic about the company's financial outlook. Docket No. 97-07-14, Jan. 21, 1998 (Conn.D.P.U.C.).
PILOT PROGRAMS (em IOWA. The Iowa Utilities Board has set guidelines for MidAmerican Energy Co. to develop a two-year pilot program to extend energy choice to at least 3 percent of both residential and small commercial electric customers. The utility must design an unbundled rate tariff for each group based on current bundled rates and allocated costs and must provide backup service (em either directly or through suppliers. MidAmerican will retain control of meters and may recover start-up and administrative costs from all of its customers, but must defer estimated lost revenues until the board reviews the issue at the conclusion of the pilot. MidAmerican, which has no power marketing affiliate, may participate as a supplier through a functionally separate corporate unit. Docket No. noi-95-1, Feb. 10, 1998 (Iowa U.B.).
PILOT PROGRAMS (em IDAHO. The Idaho Public Utilities Com-
mission has authorized Washington Water Power Co. to set up a new pilot program that will allow some of its residential and small commercial customers an opportunity to choose from a portfolio of energy services, beyond traditional bundled rates, but without changing energy providers. Despite claims by its staff that the company would be the primary beneficiary of the program, the PUC ruled that experience gained from operation of the pilot would benefit all customers. Case No. wwp-e-97-11, Order No. 27351, Feb. 6, 1998 (Idaho P.U.C.).
WHOLESALE POWER SUPPLY COSTS. The New Jersey Board
of Public Utilities set aside a petition brought by a member of the state legislature seeking lower electric rates for his constituents based on claims that the local utility, Rockland Electric Co., should be made to cancel existing power sales agreements and sell wholesale power from its parent company, Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc., or through competitive bidding. The BPU said the complaint, while "well intentioned," was premature in light of its ongoing investigation into restructuring the state's electric industry. Docket No. er97010045, Jan. 23, 1998 (N.J.B.P.U.).
EARNINGS SHARING PLAN. The New York Public Service Commission has adjusted an earnings sharing agreement for Brooklyn Union Gas Co. (reducing the cap on equity returns, above which ratepayers would share) in its order approving the company's merger with Long Island Lighting Co. Under