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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - December 1999

Public Service Co. of Colorado has signed an agreement to cut air pollution from its three Denver-area power plants, becoming the first utility to initiate an emissions reduction program under a state law passed last year that provides businesses with incentives to cut pollution to levels lower than those required by law.

The agreement, negotiated over several years and requiring approvals by the Colorado PUC and the state health department, calls for the utility to spend $205 million to cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 70 percent and nitrogen oxide by 40 percent. The utility will recoup the expenses by charging ratepayers an extra 82 cents per month for 15 years, starting in 2003.

Nuclear Unit Sales. Conectiv on Sept. 30 agreed to sell its ownership interests in three nuclear power plants to PSEG Power LLC and PECO Energy Co. for $20 million, plus reimbursement of actual fuel inventory at closing.

Conectiv, which no longer will own any nuclear plants, is selling a 15 percent interest (328 megawatts) in Peach Bottom units 2 and 3 in equal shares to the PSEG and PECO co-owners, each of whom already hold a 43 percent share, and a 14.8 percent interest (328 MW) in the Salem plant to PSEG, which already owns a 43 percent interest. Finally, it will sell a 5 percent interest (52 MW) in the Hope Creek plant, giving PSEG a full 100 percent interest.

Nuclear Sales, cont'd. The New York PSC was to hold a series of public hearings and educational forums throughout November on the proposal by Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. to sell its Nine Mile Point nuclear unit 1 and its 41 percent share in Nine Mile unit 2 to AmerGen Energy. New York State Electric and Gas Corp. also has proposed to sell its 18 percent share in Nine Mile 2 to AmerGen.

State PUCs

Standard Offer Bidding. Finding prices too high, the Maine PUC rejected all bids made by competitive suppliers seeking to provide generation resources for the standard-offer portfolios of Central Maine Power Co. and Bangor-Hydro Electric Co. under the state's electric industry restructuring program.

But the PUC OK'd two standard offer bids - by WPS Energy Services Inc. and Energy Atlantic - to serve Maine's other major electric utility, Maine Public Service Co.

"It is unclear why the standard offer bid prices for CMP and BHE were so much higher than those proposed for MPS customers," said the PUC. But it guessed that several factors might be to blame, such as (1) immaturity of the New England independent system operator, (2) high spot market prices in recent months, and (3) uncertainty about transmission pricing in the region. Docket No. 99-111, Oct. 25, 1999 (Me.P.U.C.).

Distributed Generation. The Vermont board opened a docket to set guidelines for "distributed utility planning." It would study options for using demand-side management and distributed generation to reduce the cost of maintaining the reliability and to avoid or defer investments in transmission and distribution networks. Docket No. 6290, Sept. 30, 1999 (Vt.P.S.B.).

EDI Standards. While resisting pressure from the Mid-Atlantic Power Supply