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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - October 15 1999

directly into ERCOT and the Southwest Power Pool.

CMS Energy announced that it has executed definitive agreements with its Ghanaian partner, Volta River Authority, for the accelerated construction, joint ownership and operation of a second 110-MW, natural gas-fueled turbine generator at Unit 2 of VRA's Takoradi Thermal Power Plant near Aboadze, Ghana. CMS Energy and VRA have formed a joint venture, Takoradi International Co., to construct and operate Takoradi Unit 2, which will be a 330-MW, combined-cycle unit identical to the already-commissioned Takoradi Unit 1.

Cannon Technologies Inc. will begin shipment later this year of its LCR 5000, the utility industry's first load control receiver to use Motorola's 900 MHZ FLEX( paging technology. The LCR 5000 enables utilities to use a national paging network to control air conditioners, water heaters, distributed generation, irrigation pumps, oil wells and other customer loads.

SPS Payment Systems Inc. has announced a name change to Associates Commerce Solutions. The company, which serves utilities including ConEdison, was purchased by Associates First Capital Corp. in October 1998. SPS provides retail private label credit card services and call center teleservices. The name change was to take place Sept. 27.

State Legislatures

Hostile Takeovers. Fearing possible job losses and higher energy prices, Rep. David Goodman on Aug. 25 announced he would introduce state legislation to provide Ohio utilities with protections against hostile takeover attempts by out-of-state companies.

At the beginning of the month, Goodman had expressed concern over the hostile takeover bid by NiSource Inc. for Columbia Energy Group, the parent company of Columbia Gas of Ohio. Goodman, who serves on the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee, said, "I intend to introduce legislation that will ensure all hostile takeovers involving public utilities in Ohio will receive appropriate levels of regulatory review and public scrutiny - before the deals are too far along to offer adequate protections to Ohio jobs and consumers."

Goodman's bill would require the PUC to investigate any hostile takeover when a tender offer is made and prohibit the Ohio PUC from approving such a takeover without first finding public convenience and reasonable cost for utility services.

Generating Capacity. The Maine PUC on Aug. 23 approved the transfer of Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.'s 50 percent ownership interest in the 20-MW West Enfield hydroelectric station to Penobscot Hydro LLC, a subsidiary of PP&L Global Inc. The plant will continue to sell its output to Bangor Hydro under a long-term contract through 2023.

Earlier in 1999, Penobscot Hydro received approval to purchase Bangor Hydro's seven hydroelectric stations and sell the output to Bangor Hydro until March 2000, when Maine's electric restructuring law becomes effective.

Utility Construction. Concerned over a narrow, 1.4 percent reserve margin by 2001, the Florida PSC authorized Gulf Power Co. to construct a 529-MW, combined-cycle, gas-fired power plant, finding that the "self-build" option would offer ratepayers over $116 million in net present value savings when compared with other alternatives, including power supply bids solicited by the utility. Docket No. 990325-EI, Order No. PSC-99-1478-FOF-EI, Aug. 2, 1999 (Fla.P.S.C.).

Electric Pricing

Electric Rate Cuts. New Mexico regulators on Aug. 25 approved