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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - December 1999

capacity issues relating to customer choice, but anticipate that details will be further developed in restructuring cases for individual LDCs. Docket No. L-00990144, Oct. 15, 1999 (Pa.P.U.C.).

* Info Disclosure. Guidelines cover bill format, customer requests for information, marketing and sales materials and customer privacy. Docket No. M-00991249F0005, Oct. 15, 1999 (Pa.P.U.C.).

Outage Investigations. After reviewing a staff investigative report on July outages, the Delaware commission opened a formal proceeding into whether Delmarva Power & Light Co. (doing business as Conectiv Power Delivery) is fulfilling its obligations to provide adequate and reliable service. The proceeding is to be concluded by May 2, 2000. Order No. 5244, Oct. 12, 1999 (Del.P.S.C.).

Economic Development Costs. The comment period ended Oct. 6 for a controversial proposal by the Texas PUC to prohibit electric utilities from passing along to customers any costs to support economic development.

The rule change would compel utilities to divide transmission and distribution and retail units into separate businesses. Any service offered by transmission and distribution utilities would have to be classified as either system, discretionary, petitioned or other service. The Texas PUC was to rule by Nov. 18. Project No. 21083, Tex.P.U.C.

Energy Efficiency Programs. Culminating over two years of work among the state's 22 electric distribution utilities, various consumer and environmental groups, state government and International Business Machines Inc., Vermont approved a settlement that will create an "energy efficiency utility" to deliver comprehensive energy efficiency services to all classes of electric consumers. The EEU will be an independent entity under contract to the Public Service Board and funded through charges on electricity usage.

Initially, the EEU will implement a set of energy efficiency programs aimed primarily at acquiring "lost opportunity" savings - efficiency opportunities that can be captured only at particular times, such as during new construction or extensive remodeling - from end-users. Later, the EEU is to move into areas such as new technologies and changing markets, seeking "to uncover new opportunities for cost-effective savings."

Following a conference held Oct. 19, hearing officer Sandra Waldstein said there was "general agreement on most of the details" associated with a future EEU wires charge, noting ongoing negotiations on the calculation and structure of the charge and its allocation among utility service territories. Docket No. 5980, Sept. 30, 1999 (Vt.P.S.B.), Oct. 22, 1999 (procedural order by hearing officer).

Competitive Metering. The New York PSC reaffirmed a June 16 ruling setting policies for competitive metering and meter data services in the restructured electric utility market, dismissing concerns that a rule requiring utilities to grant an embedded cost credit to customers who chose a competitive metering service provider would lead to an excessive discount for switching customers and subsidize competing meter service firms.

The PSC concluded that many of the components of metering were labor-intensive and for those items, embedded costs were "a very good proxy for long run costs." Case 94-E-0952, Sept. 15, 1999 (N.Y.P.S.C.).

Studies & Reports

Internet Commerce. A study by Andersen Consulting finds that many Internet sites maintained by electric utilities around the world lack the sophistication needed to compete