FERC’s market-power screens have been tested and found wanting in some areas. The author examines the screens’ strengths and weaknesses, then proposes future solutions.
ENERGY SUPPORT SERVICES. An Illinois appeals court affirmed a 1997 decision by the state commission that had denied authority to Commonwealth Edison to offer "energy support services," such as design, engineering, construction, analysis and management of electrical power equipment and energy systems. The court made this decision despite the utility's argument that no evidence existed to support the commission's finding that ComEd enjoyed a monopolist's advantage over competitors. In its March 31, 1997 decision, the commission had found that bundling generation and energy support services would drive out competitors. Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Ill. Commerce Comm'n, No. 2-97-0657, 1998 wl 146203, March 31, 1998 (Ill.App.2d Dist.).
QF RETAIL SALES. Ruling in favor of the local franchised electric utility, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned a decision by state utility regulators. The court ruled that the commission could bar a qualifying cogeneration facility from selling power at retail to customers located on the same land as the plant (and within the utility service territory) because the QF qualified under as a "foreign corporation"; state law bars such a business from selling power at retail. Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. Texas-Ohio Power Co., No. 15794, 1998 wl 61612, Feb. 17, 1998 (Conn.).
COMPETITIVE SERVICES. The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld a state commission decision that barred Public Service Co. of New Mexico from offering optional services to electric and gas utility customers except through a separate subsidiary.
THE FIRST MEETING of the proposed Alliance Independent System Operator was held in Arlington, Va., to disseminate and gather information for the ISO, which could stretch from Michigan to North Carolina. Virginia Power and FirstEnergy led the discussions; the U.K.'s National Grid Co. acted as consultant. American Electric Power Co. on April 8 announced that it had accepted an invitation from Alliance to join in discussions as they move forward.
Ohio PUC Chairman Craig A. Glazer, who backs the Midwest ISO, expressed dismay over the competing ISOs. "Competing ISOs will be costly to consumers, administratively burdensome and can lead to unnecessary charges for transactions across the borders of the two ISOs," Glazer said. He added that the PUC will use its authority to bring the two ISOs together.
CellNet Data Systems Inc. will provide data communications services to customers of Friendly Power Co. CellNet will provide informational metering data services priced on a monthly, per-meter basis to most of Friendly Power's large commercial and industrial customers in California.
Consumers Energy Co., the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy Corp., successfully issued $250 million of 6 percent senior notes due 2008 and $225 million of 6 percent senior notes due 2018. These senior notes will become unsecured when all of the company's outstanding first mortgage bonds are retired.
A recent National Regulatory Research Institute report, Organizational Transformation: Ensuring the Relevance of Public Utility Commissions, addresses the changes that have occurred at state public utility commissions since the 1995 National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners NARUC/NRRI Commissioners Summit. For more information, please call 614-292-9404.
A 1997 University of Maryland poll indicates that two-thirds of the U.S. population