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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - October 15 1999

change by Dec. 31, according to the report, "The Rise of a New Era: Retail Choice Gains Momentum."

"This is the breakthrough point in the marketing and economics of deregulated energy in the U.S.," said Paul Parshley, director of CERA's North American power team. "After many years of experimentation, several companies have a large enough 'critical mass' of customers to achieve the scale needed to drive down the average cost of marketing and customer service and create a profitable retail energy business." See www.cera.com.

Commercial Gas Usage. According to a Gas Research Institute report, domestic natural gas consumption in the commercial sector should grow 1.2 percent annually through 2015, slightly ahead of the growth rate for total commercial energy consumption during that same time period.

GRI's "1999 Commercial Sector Summary" projects commercial gas demand will increase from 3.3 quads in 1997 to 4 quads in 2015. Total commercial energy consumption, which accounts for 10 percent of all domestic energy demand, is expected to grow 1.1 percent annually from 7.6 quads to 9.2 quads by 2015.

The report finds increased opportunities for use of distributed generation, especially as restaurants, supermarkets and warehouses seek to decrease risk from electric outages. The study (GRI-99-0007) can be ordered by fax at 630-406-5995.

Transmission & ISOs

New ISO Members. Northern States Power Co. has agreed to join the Midwest ISO, after winning assurance from Madison Gas & Electric, Wisconsin Public Power Inc., Wisconsin Energy Corp., Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin and the Citizen's Utility Board that they will not oppose or delay the company's planned merger with New Century Energies (though the CUB may still contest adverse impacts on customer rates or service quality).

"This should place all of the Wisconsin transmission system under a single operator, which will benefit all Wisconsin electric consumers," said Roy Thilly, president and CEO of Wisconsin Public Power.

Earlier, NSP had pledged to join the Midwest ISO only if state PUCs and the FERC would ok the still-pending merger (see FERC Docket EC99-101-000). New Century Energies, centered in Denver, owns Public Service Co. of Colorado and Southwestern Public Service.

Transmission Service Contracts. U.S. District Court Judge Anne Conway ruled that Florida Power & Light Co. violated a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and staff at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in which it had agreed to transmit power for neighboring municipal utilities, and set trial on antitrust law issues.

The Florida Municipal Power Agency claimed that FP&L denied access to transmission, allegedly delaying acquisition of generating resources for municipal electric systems. Fla. Mun. Pwr. Agency v. FP&L, Case No. 92-35-Civ-Orl-22C. Aug. 18, 1999 (Mid.Dist., Fla., Orlando Div.).

Grid Reliability. The Western Systems Coordinating Council on Sept. 1 began implementing its "reliability management system," aimed at maintaining electric system reliability for the Western Interconnection, following FERC approval by letter order of RMS contracts signed by 26 WSCC members. Docket No. ER99-3396, July 29, 1999 (F.E.R.C.).

Phase I includes control performance standards, operating reserve and operating transfer capability. Disturbance control standards, automatic voltage regulators, and power system stabilizers were to become