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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - February 15 2000


The plan includes rate cuts of 7 percent (residential class) and 4 percent (commercial and industrial), with retail choice for all classes by July 1, 2000. Case No. 8796, Order No. 75850, Dec. 22, 1999 (Md.P.S.C.).

Meter Unbundling. The Illinois commission set policies for unbundling of electricity metering services, identifying 16 separate processes, such as meter reading, installation, testing, and equipment design and engineering. It also adopted technological demarcation points between unbundled metering facilities and facilities dedicated to delivery service. All meter service providers must offer advanced metering services. No. 99-0013, Dec. 22, 1999 (Ill.C.C.).

Gas Supply Portfolios. The North Carolina commission refused to require natural gas local distribution companies to diversify their supply purchasing portfolios to include a reasonable number of contracts with price ceilings or futures price hedges.

It OK'd the purchasing practices of Piedmont Natural Gas Co. Inc., even though PNG had relied on market-indexed arrangements without financial hedges during the most recent review period. Docket No. G-9, SUB 419, Dec. 21, 1999 (N.C.U.C.).

Gas Supply Adequacy. Aware that many long-term contracts between pipelines and gas local distribution companies (LDCs) are set to expire in 2000, leaving core customers without dedicated capacity if no marketer takes over capacity rights relinquished by an LDC, the New York PSC will institute company-specific studies to determine: (1) the level of relinquished capacity, (2) liquidity at hub or trading points, (3) competition in markets for relinquished capacity and (4) options for capacity replacement. Case 97-G-1380, Dec. 21, 1999 (N.Y.P.S.C.).

Retail Electric Competition. The Texas PUC on Dec. 20 set rules requiring utilities to unbundle their power generation, power delivery, energy sales and competitive services in preparation for full retail competition in the electric industry on Jan. 1, 2002.

Utilities must transfer competitive services to an unregulated subsidiary by Sept. 1. Such services include energy efficiency, construction or renovation of energy-related processes, private security lighting and indoor air quality products.

Standard Offers. Rhode Island OK'd standard offer generation rates for both Blackstone Valley Electric Co. and Narragansett Electric Co., increasing them from 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour to 3.8 cents per kilowatt-hour to recover wholesale power price increases. Docket No. 3031 (Narragansett), Dec. 17, 1999; Docket No. 3022 (Blackstone), Dec. 17, 1999 (R.I.P.U.C.).

Natural Gas Rates. Questar Gas Co. asked Utah regulators for a $22.2 million increase in annual natural gas rates, citing years of cost cutting and a recent Utah PSC order denying a passthrough of gas processing costs.

"After nearly a decade of cost-cutting measures, we're straining the limits of our ability to maintain acceptable customer service levels," said Nick Rose, Questar Gas president and chief executive officer. Docket No. 99-057-20, filed Dec. 17, 1999 (Utah P.S.C.).

Nuclear Decommissioning. The Michigan PSC OK'd a settlement allowing Consumers Energy Co. to charge its customers $5.5 million annually for funding the decommissioning of the Palisades nuclear plant, reducing the charge from the interim $14.4 million approved last March. Case No. U-11662, Dec. 16, 1999 (Mich.P.S.C.).

Utility Marketing Affiliates. Connecticut regulators allowed Connecticut Light & Power Co. to buy 50 percent of its standard offer