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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - August 1998

of Pacific Power & Light Co. Groups of large-volume and commercial customers (and educational institutions) may contract directly with competitive suppliers, while residential and small commercial customers within an identified target area may choose from a portfolio of pricing options. The shopping credit reflected a recent 12-month average peak power price at the California-Oregon border. UE105, Order No. 98-157, April 15, 1998 (Ore.P.U.C.).

RETAIL GAS CHOICE. While approving retail choice for up to 20 percent of natural gas customers of Michigan Consolidated Gas Co. (with a new aggregation tariff), the Michigan Public Service Commission ruled that competitive gas suppliers may independently determine the volume of interstate pipeline capacity they need to deliver gas to the MichCon system and to obtain the capacity from any source and in any manner deemed appropriate. MichCon also will suspend its gas cost recovery clause, freeze its gas commodity charge at $2.95 per thousand cubic feet, freeze its distribution service rates at current levels and share excess earnings (return on equity above 11.5 percent) with ratepayers on a sliding scale ranging from 50 to 100 percent. Case No. U-11682, April 28, 1998 (Mi.P.S.C.).

YEAR 2000 BUG. The North Carolina Utilities Commission has directed nearly all the state's public utilities to complete and file a staff-prepared survey on efforts to correct computer software to deal with the dates falling on or after 2000. The commission said it views the issue as largely outside commission jurisdiction but it remains concerned about the adequacy of solutions developed by individual utilities. Docket No. M-100, Sub 126, April 28, 1998 (N.C.U.C.).

UTILITY DIVERSIFICATION. Finding no untoward effects on capital structure or cash flow, or risk to electric ratepayers, the Maine Public Utilities Commission has allowed Central Maine Power Co. to form a holding company and natural gas distribution affiliate to carry out its plan to diversify into gas retail sales by joining with New York State Electric and Gas to serve some 60 municipalities in Maine currently without retail gas distribution service. Docket No. 98-077, May 1, 1998 (Me.P.U.C.).

RETAIL MARKETING AFFILIATES. To prepare the state's retail electric market for competition by March 2000, the Maine Public Utilities Commission has opened a docket to develop rules governing conduct and transactions between transmission and distribution utilities and their affiliated competitive retail marketers. It also has opened two other cases to consider information disclosure to retail electricity customers and the sale of rights to energy and capacity held by T&D utilities. Docket No. 980099, April 7, 1998 (codes of conduct); Docket No. 98-234, April 7, 1998 (information disclosure); Docket No. 98-227, April 7, 1998 (energy and capacity sales) (Me.P.U.C.).

CONSUMER EDUCATION. The Maine Public Utilities Commission has modified a provisional rule covering consumer education in electric restructuring to acknowledge that it must consider the recommendations of a multi-party, outside advisory board. Left undisturbed was an earlier finding that utility funding and PUC approval mechanisms for educational materials do not violate free speech rights under the First Amendment. Docket No. 97-583, April 22, 1998 (Me.P.U.C.).

RESOURCE PLANNING. The North Carolina Utilities Commission has streamlined rules