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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1998

generation project with no steam host, under terms and conditions similar to service provided to a qualifying cogeneration facility in the same area. The generator, New York City Energy Group LP, had said it would compete against the QF and complained that Brooklyn Union had refused to negotiate an off-tariff rate.

The PSC noted that the two generators would share the same gas transmission and distribution facilities, and ruled that their overall rate levels for fuel should be comparable, though rates could deviate to reflect differences in annual gas consumption at the two plants. Case No. 97-G- 0388, Apr. 14, 1998 (N.Y.P.S.C).

DISCOUNT CONTRACTS. The Virginia State Corporation Commission adopted guidelines to ensure that special rate incentives or discounts do not result in higher rates for other customers. To enforce that goal, it will start by examining whether revenues will exceed variable costs, but may launch a broader level of review, including costs, expenses and return calculated by rate class. Case No. PUE970695, March 20, 1998 (Va.S.C.C.).

ELECTRIC WIRES SERVICES. The New York Public Service Commission issued a policy statement on the use of tariffs, standardized agreements and supplier manuals to govern access rights and terms and conditions in the relationship between competitive energy service providers and regulated electric transmission and distribution utilities. Case No. 94-E-0952, March 10, 1998 (N.Y.P.S.C.).

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT RATES. The New York Public Service Commission authorized Consolidated Edison Company of New York Inc. to adjust rates under its new retail access program. The PSC wants to ensure that customers currently receiving rate discounts and business incentive offerings receive the same level of discount whether they remain as full-service customers of the utility or switch to a competitive energy supplier. The PSC said that city and state economic development officials had questioned whether the utility's new tariffs promoted competitive neutrality between retail access and full-service programs. Case No. 96-E-0897, April 10, 1998 (N.Y.P.S.C.).

FIXED GAS RATES. The New York Public Service Commission has authorized the state's natural gas local distribution utilities to offer customers a fixed-price option for gas consumption, rather than the variable monthly gas cost adjustment currently employed by the utilities, thus formalizing temporary emergency authority granted during the 1997-98 heating season. Non-core customers are excluded from the program. Case No. 97-G-0600, March 6, 1998 (N.Y.P.S.C.).

TELCO ACCESS CHARGES. In approving a settlement, the Maine Public Utilities Commission allowed Bell Atlantic-Maine to boost basic local exchange telephone rates by $3.50 per line to offset revenue losses predicted by cutting access charges to long-distance carriers, even though a price cap plan in effect barred any local rate hike except under a rigid, inflation-based formula, and did not include lost access revenues as an "exogenous change" that might warrant a rate hike. The PUC described the settlement as a fair resolution. Docket No. 94-123, March 17, 1998 (Me.P.U.C.).

GAS ADJUSTMENT CLAUSES. The Michigan Public Service Commission authorized Wisconsin Public Service Corp. to use its gas cost adjustment clause to recover unplanned costs to sell gas temporarily to a prospective transportation-only customer pending completion of necessary transportation facilities. It made