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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - June 15 1998

how it can require competitive electric providers to reserve at least 30 percent of their supply portfolios for renewable resources - and is considering tradable credits as one option. The PUC will also begin studying how to carry out a program that will allow retail ratepayers to make voluntary contributions for research and development on renewables. Both mandates are part of the state's electric restructuring law calling for retail competition in the electric generation market by March 21, 2000. Docket No. 97-584, Feb. 18, 1998 (Me.P.U.C.).

STANDARD-OFFER GENERATION. Over the objections of Enron Capital and Trade Resources (and other prospective energy suppliers) that the rate would hinder competition, the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy has approved an interim 1998 price of only 2.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for standard-offer generation service for Cambridge Electric Light Co., Commonwealth Electric Co., and Canal Electric Co. (operating companies of the Commonwealth Energy System). D.P.U./D.T.E. 97-111, March 2, 1998 (Mass.D.T.E.).

Earlier, the DTE had imposed rules on electric distribution utilities governing: (1) standard-offer and default generation services; (2) discounts for farmers and low-income users; (3) information on renewable resources; and (4) ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs. The rules also imposed other requirements on competitive energy suppliers - such as licensing, pricing, billing and consumer protection. D.P.U./D.T.E. 96-100, Feb. 20, 1998 (Mass.D.T.E.).

DIRECT ACCESS PROGRAMS. The Michigan Public Service Commission has authorized Nordic Electric LLC, a competitive supplier of electric energy, to expand its scope of service and sell energy to a pipeline and a municipal water treatment plant located within the Consumers Power's franchise but outside the territory recently certified for the utility's direct access program. The PSC said Consumers Power had failed to show that opening sales beyond the formal program would increase the potential for financial harm from stranded costs. Case No. u-11601, March 20, 1998 (Mich.P.S.C.).

REGIONAL ISO/PX. The Virginia State Corporation Commission has directed the state's electric utilities to begin work immediately with other interested parties to develop independent system operators and regional power exchanges to facilitate restructuring of the retail electric market. It also ordered that state's two largest electric companies, Virginia Power and AEP-Virginia to each implement "at least one" retail access pilot program and study. That action came just after the state Legislature had passed two related measures: One bill required development of pilot programs; the other required supporting ISOs and PXs. Case No. pue980138, March 20, 1998 (Va.S.C.C.).

ENERGY BILLING. With at least one exception, the New York Public Service Commission has adopted a "two-bill option," whereby electric distribution utilities will bill customers for transmission and distribution services but must provide information to competitive energy service providers sufficient to allow the ESPs to furnish their own separate bill to electric customers. The PSC noted that it had already adopted rules for competitive metering and the new billing rules were intended to further that effort.

The exception was drawn for Rochester Gas & Electric, whose restructuring plan, already approved by the PSC (Case 96-e-0998, Opinion No. 98-1, Jan. 14, 1998) maintains a "single retailer model" - the utility will provide