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News Analysis

Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1998

failed to provide a persuasive reason in support of its request. The commission emphasizes that no third-party billing will occur until it has approved both the qualifications criteria for permitting such billing and the specific entities that will perform the billing.

Nevertheless, the PSC did bow to pressure on one point. Reversing its position from the 1997 order, it adopts a reciprocity requirement in its September decision.

Missouri (em Legislation Unlikely. Legislation is not anticipated in 1999 in Missouri, although the state's Retail Competition Task Force, appointed by the Public Service Commission in 1997, %n9%n filed its report on May 1 of this year. %n10%n

"Retail restructuring should proceed with caution and be completely within the control of the state," the report advises.

"We want to do it right," adds PSC Electric Department Manager Bill Washburn.

While it outlines options on various issues, the report makes no recommendation on such key questions as how the state would best restructure the electric industry as well as the issue of stranded costs. The report, intended to serve merely as a primer for the General Assembly, does, in fact, recommend changing certain laws that may be incompatible with a competitive environment.

The report has been forwarded to the legislature. Washburn states that the Joint Interim Committee has begun its work (two meetings were scheduled for the end of October). Meanwhile, the PSC has announced the formation of an Electricity Roundtable Discussion Group, which will consist of twelve individuals including two commissioners, to examine the future of the industry in the state. An agenda committee, which will set meeting dates, is being put together.

Nevada (em Raising the Bar. In October the Public Utilities Commission reissued proposed rules it first released during the summer %n11%n on competitor licensing and consumer protection, seeking more input before issuing a final ruling, expected in November. In particular, the proposed rules would require that marketing affiliates of utilities must post a bond high enough to cover the cost of two months of "Provider of Last Resort" service, or $250,000, whichever is greater.

"We're setting the bar fairly high in Nevada to assure we get companies who are financially able to meet their obligations to assure their customers get quality service," says Chairman Judy Sheldrew.

Assembly Bill 366, signed into law in July 1997, directs the PUC to establish customer choice no later than 1999.

In the area of distribution tariffs, the PUC has proposed a change which will allow customers whose use of electricity is over 100 megawatts to arrange for their power delivery directly from the distribution company.

In June, after holding three workshops in February and March and soliciting comments on the issue, the PUC voted to classify billing, metering, and customer services as competitive services in addition to aggregation and generation. A hearing was scheduled on the matter for Oct. 28. %n12%n

New Jersey (em Outlook Hopeful. Bills introduced in the Assembly on Sept.17 (A-10) and in the Senate on Sept. 28 (S-5) each provide for customer choice no later than June 1, 1999 with a maximum