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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1999

a dam as an option in weighing the environmental effects of various alternatives for renewal of a hydroelectric license. Similarly, as a baseline for its evaluation, the FERC need not reconstruct the conditions that existed before the project was built, but instead may start with the current status of the project and treat that set of conditions as the "no action" baseline against which other options are measured.

The case involved the Leaburg (14.5 MW) and Walterville (8 MW) projects on the McKenzie River in Oregon. American Rivers v. FERC, Nos. 98-70079 et al., 1999 WL 599234, Aug. 11, 1999 (9th Cir.).

System Operating Agreements. Vacating a FERC order for not following precedent, a federal court asked the FERC to reexamine an Entergy system operating agreement that took interruptible sales into consideration in allocating electric capacity costs among operating utilities in four states, even though Entergy no longer counted interruptible load in its planning criteria for evaluating need for capacity.

The court said the FERC had failed to follow its own 1981 ruling that excluded interruptible load in allocating capacity costs. At that time, the FERC had said that a the seller can always avoid capacity costs by curtailing an interruptible customer to avoid a load during the system peak. Louisiana PSC v. FERC, No. 97-1661, 1999 WL 553723, Aug. 6, 1999 D.C.Cir.).

Water and Sewer Fees. The South Carolina supreme court upheld a regional sewer fee on all new service connections or upgrades, ranging from $500 (for residential users) to $80,000 (for large industrial customers). It rejected arguments that the fee actually was a concealed tax to help fund regional capital improvements because the fees will not be placed in a general fund (the "hallmark of a tax") but instead will primarily benefit those who pay them. J.K. Construction v. Western Carolina Reg. Sewer Auth., No. 24981, 1999 WL 565293, Aug. 2, 1999 (S.C.).

Business Wire

North American Power Brokers Inc. has announced its new name and brand: "The new name reflects a company that delivers Internet technology and business process standards to the energy industry," said John Gaus, CEO and co-founder of The company also announced a major upgrade of its Internet commerce system for energy. Formerly the World Wide Retail Exchange, fully automates the energy procurement process with enhancements including online purchasing confirmation and expanded financial reporting capabilities.

AES Corp has won a bid to acquire a controlling 51 percent interest in Eletronet in Brazil for approximately $155 million. The remaining 49 percent will be owned by a subsidiary of Electrobras. Eletronet was created last year to construct a national broadband telecommunications network attached to the existing national electrical transmission grid in Brazil. Eletronet's network eventually will span approximately 12,000 kilometers in Brazil and serve the country's major population centers. Eletronet intends to sell transport capacity on its network by entering into contracts with the regional and national long distance carriers.

American Electric Power and Siemens Power Transmission & Distribution have been awarded a contract to test whether new technologies are able to improve power quality