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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - October 15 1999

on behalf of suppliers, dismissing arguments that such fees might harm competition.

Utilities must file a review of its initial TPS fee structure by Aug. 1, 2000, and may petition the board annually for fee adjustments. An electric utility must offer the same TPS agreement to all suppliers.

Electric Reliability. Concerned over power outages during the week of July 4, the New Jersey board opened an investigation on the reliability of the state's four largest electric utilities.

The BPU was seeking consultants to investigate system reliability of subsidiaries of Conectiv Inc., Consolidated Edison, GPU Inc. and Public Service Enterprise Group, while at the same time commencing its own internal investigation into whether utilities followed the BPU's customer notification recommendations during the outages.

Gas Market Reforms. Hearings were scheduled for Oct. 25-29, with initial briefs due Nov. 19, as the California PUC proceeds to develop a report for the state legislature on restructuring the California natural gas industry.

The PUC said that parties to the reform process should begin negotiating the details of a new market structure that (1) retains the local distribution company procurement function, (2) creates a system of firm, tradable intrastate transmission rights available to individual shippers, (3) allows shippers to bid for firm storage access rights and to sell unused capacity on a newly developed secondary market, (4) provides customers with adequate "real-time" information about LDC balancing practices, while promoting the ability of shippers to trade or sell imbalance rights purchased as part of their intrastate transmission service, and (5) removes threshold limits and system-wide caps on existing aggregation programs for core customers.

Overall, the PUC said it would seek to improve reforms implemented by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. under the 1997 "Gas Accord" settlement - by which PG&E currently operates a temporary open-access intrastate transmission system in its Northern California service area - with all end-users, marketers, producers and brokers able to hold "path-specific firm or as-available transmission service contracts." D. 99-07-015, R. 98-01-011 (renumbered as I.99-07-003), July 8, 1999 (Cal.P.U.C.).

Electric Distribution Systems. The Alabama PSC ruled that if the federal government should decide to sell its electric distribution facilities at Maxwell Air Force Base to a private contractor, the new owner would be required to obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity.

But the commission added that Alabama Power Co. could purchase the facilities and take over distribution activities under its existing certificate, without applying for a new one. Docket U-4034, Aug. 4, 1999 (Ala.P.S.C.).

Business Wire

Financing has been secured and construction was to begin immediately on the new 830-megawatt Tenaska Gateway Generating Station, a natural gas-fired, combined-cycle electricity generation facility, in east Texas. The facility will be owned by affiliates of Tenaska Inc. and Coral Energy L.P., while other Coral affiliates will deliver the fuel and purchase the electricity output of the facility. The generating station will have the ability to dispatch power within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and to other power grids. Coral will incorporate the plant into its regional supply portfolio, selling the power on a merchant basis