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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - July 1 1998

the Illinois Commerce Commission to approve hourly energy pricing (HEP) for its nonresidential customers. Rate HEP was mandated by the Illinois electric restructuring law to give customers experience with competitive energy.

"Choice for nonresidential customers is just 17 months away," said Arlene Juracek, ComEd vice president. " By participating in rate HEP, they will be able to view the next day's hourly energy rates on a special ComEd Internet site, and adjust their energy consumption accordingly."

Every afternoon ComEd will calculate hourly energy prices for the next day. Those prices will be posted on the dedicated Internet site by 4 p.m.

REGIONAL REGULATION. The Utah Public Service Commis- sion approved a new cost allocation method that will require PacifiCorp to allocate costs evenly across its seven-state service territory, revising a prior method set in 1989 by a task force of state and federal regulators in the wake of the merger between Pacific Power & Light Co. and Utah Power & Light, which had allocated pre-merger costs by company of origin and post-merger costs system wide.

As the PSC explains, the new method will be phased in over five years and will allocate costs evenly over the companies' jurisdictions without regard to whether costs were incurred before or after the merger. The PSC predicts that Utah ratepayers could save about $50 million to $60 million a year once the phase-in is complete, but savings still depend on a rate proceeding expected to end later this year. Docket No. 97-035-04, April 14, 1998 (Utah P.S.C.).

INCENTIVE REGULATION. Describing the idea as tilted against ratepayers, the Missouri Public Service Commission has rejected a move by Missouri Public Service, an operating subsidiary of UtiliCorp United Inc., to replace an experimental performance-based rate plan with a permanent program to share excess earnings with stockholders. It forced the company to cut rates by about $16.89 million (return on equity at 10.75 percent, using the parent company's capital structure) and said that Missouri Public Service should credit ratepayers with 100 percent of off-system sales revenue, instead of 50 percent as proposed. It also rejected real-time and flexible pricing tariffs proposed by the utility to "better conform" to competition. Case Nos. er-97-394 et al., March 18, 1998 (Mo.P.S.C.).

MILLENNIUM BUG. The Nevada PSC has launched an investigation into whether the state's energy and telecommunications companies are prepared for potential computer glitches due to the year 2000 problem.

The PSC unanimously voted to require the electric, gas, water and telephone companies to report on the status of preparedness for changes to computer dates beginning with 2000. Commissioner Timothy Hay requested the investigation to ensure that Nevada utilities and customers are protected from disturbances that might occur due to computer difficulties.

TELEPHONE WHITE PAGES. Finding that a single directory will best promote local telephone competition, the Tennessee Regulatory Authority has ruled that a BellSouth affiliate that publishes telephone "white pages" directories must allow a new local carrier, AT&T Communications of the South Central States Inc., to contract to insert the numbers of its local customers in the directory and add its name