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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1999

of 4.49 cents per kilowatt-hour for residential electric customers of Rockland Electric Co., more than a full cent lower than set earlier for Atlantic City Electric. The order also would cut Rockland's rates by 5 percent from current levels in 1999, 7 percent by 2001 and 11.6 percent in 2002. BPU Docket Nos. EO97070464 et al., July 28, 1999 (N.J.B.P.U.).

QF Contract Rights. Ignoring claims that long-term planning horizons are no longer compatible with a competitive environment in electricity, North Carolina regulators denied a proposal by Carolina Power & Light that would convert all long-term levelized rate contracts for qualifying cogeneration and small power production facilities to short-term rates based on prevailing market prices, if and when the state should open electric markets to retail choice in generation supply.

The commission said electric utilities must continue to offer five-, 10- and 15-year levelized standard offer contracts for certain classes of QFs (hydro QF units of 5 megawatts or less, plus non-hydro QFs of 5 MW or less fueled by trash or by methane from landfills or hog waste). Docket No. E-100, SUB 81, July 16, 1999 (N.C.U.C.).

Generating Reserve Margin. In approving long-term resource plans filed in September 1998 by the state's major investor-owned electric utilities, the North Carolina commission noted that proposed reserve margins appeared in the range of 15 percent to 18 percent, significantly below a prior 20 percent benchmark, and asked utilities to explain what they were doing in the next set of resource plans, which were due Sept. 1, 1999.

It questioned what it saw as a "much greater reliance" upon off-system purchases and interconnections with neighboring systems: "Such a development is troubling in view of the electric industry restructuring that has taken place so far." Docket No. E-100, SUB 82, July 13, 1999 (N.C.U.C.).

Power Plants

Fossil Divestitures. Illinois approved Commonwealth Edison Co.'s sale of six coal-fired plants (one dual-fueled gas/oil unit and 10 peaking fossil-fired units) to Edison Mission Energy, a subsidiary of Edison International (parent company of Southern California Edison) for $4.81 million. Mission will grant ComEd the right to acquire all of the capacity and energy from the plants through the summer of 2004.

The utility said that after the power contracts terminate, it will have the ability to obtain capacity from a variety of sources, including 500 MW of generating capacity that Mission is required to install in Chicago. It also said the cash from the sale will allow it to fund projects designed to enhance its nuclear operations. Nos. 99-0273, 99-0282, Aug. 3, 1999 (Ill.C.C.).

Foreign Asset Sales. Dominion Resources, parent company of Virginia Power, on Aug. 2 agreed to sell its portfolio of Latin American power generation businesses to Duke Energy International for $405 million. Located in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia and Peru, the businesses total about 1,200 MW of hydroelectric, natural gas and diesel fuel sources. The purchase brings Duke Energy's total Latin American assets to about 3,800 MW.

According to Thomas Capps, chairman, CEO and president of Dominion Resources, the company is exiting the Latin American generation business in order