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The 1998 Utility Regulators Forum Four States, Eight Views: Looking Back on Deregulation

Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1998

a Transco model, I see it as an evolution to a Transco model.

"The New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners was actively involved in the negotiations between NEPOOL and the ISO establishing the first ISO contract. We're involved now. The regulators have a seat at the table."

? Interventionist or Free Market?

"Information is important for customers to make effective choices. If they don't know what they're doing, if they don't have ¼ information they need, their choices will not be effective.

"We're not talking about milk here. We're talking about an industry that's making a transition from being regulated to being independent. It's a product most people never think about. I think the information disclosure requirements are important."

Learning From Others.

"Particularly looking to Pennsylvania, I think the standard offer pricing [has helped us] ¼ Their standard offer, which they call a shopping credit, was high enough and is high enough to let a real market-clearing price develop. And ours is not."

Plants For Sale.

"It is a great development. We are getting premiums for our power plants. One and one-half over book [value] for Mass Electric, something like one and one-half to two over book for Boston Edison, and six times over book for Com Electric. Com Electric is one of our highest priced utilities here in Massachusetts. Clearly the subsidiary of The Southern Co. that bought the power plants there wants to be in this market, wants to get a foothold. Selling your plants early is a real advantage. Six times over book. In a regulatory setting we could have never gotten that. We would have probably been thrown out of court on one and a half times over book."

Who's Best?

"So far, Massachusetts. "We all can learn from each other ¼ We're going to pick the best successes out of Pennsylvania and use them. We're going to pick the best successes out of California and use them. And I trust they'll do the same."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Rep. Jeb Bradley (R), chair of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee; and Michael W. Holmes, consumer advocate, Office of Consumer Advocate.

Bradley, author of the state's deregulation legislation, might qualify as an "interim interventionist." He believes there needs to be transition service for small business and residential customers. Although the litigation with Public Service Co. of New Hampshire was a driver, he helped pushed through his committee S.B. 341, which updated the restructuring law and instituted transition service for 2.5 years.

The state has a restructuring settlement with New England Electric System, so those customers already are in transition service or are choosing suppliers. Unitil Corp. also has filed a restructuring settlement with the Public Utilities Commission.

Holmes believes regulation has failed in his state. He has supported restructuring from the beginning. At press time, he was trying to win more funds for his office from the legislature. He says no one imagined what restructuring was going to cost - for litigation, for hearings, for the legislative process, for lobbying, and lastly, for consumer education. He says he