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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - February 15 2000

regulatory approvals, including expiration of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.

Nuclear Plant Sales. By virtue of its 14 percent ownership share, Rochester Gas & Electric Corp. on Dec. 22 exercised its right-of-first-refusal to acquire a controlling interest in the 1,140-MW, Nine Mile Point 2 nuclear plant, plus 100 percent of the 614-MW Nine Mile 1.

RG&E's action undermined plans announced last June by Niagara Mohawk to sell the Nine Mile 1 plant and its 41 percent interest in Nine Mile 2 to AmerGen Energy Co., a subsidiary of PECO Energy and British Energy.

RG&E also has told New York State Electric & Gas that it plans to buy NYSE&G's 18 percent share in Nine Mile 2, which NYSE&G had offered to AmerGen.

Hydro & Coal Plant Sales. PP&L Global, a subsidiary of PP&L Resources, on Dec. 17 signed an agreement to sell 1,315 MW (four coal plants, 11 hydro plants, one storage reservoir) to its indirect affiliate PP&L Montana for $757 million, ending 87 years in the generation business for Montana Power Co., which has switched its focus to power delivery and telecommunications (through its subsidiary Touch America).

Nuke Design Certification. The NRC has amended its regulations to certify the AP600 standard plant design developed by Westinghouse Electric Co. The AP600 design is for a 600-MW nuclear power plant, which can be assembled from modular components and boasts safety mechanisms that rely on gravity and pressure differentials to safely shut down the reactor or mitigate the effects of an accident.

Courts

Hydropower Relicensing. On rehearing from its August order, a federal court vacated a FERC ruling that renewed a hydropower license for the Leaburg and Walterville projects in Oregon. The court told the FERC to review its policy on how it responds to plans advanced by other federal agencies on environmental mitigation and alternative uses of waterway resources.

At the same time, the court reaffirmed that the FERC need not consider decommissioning of a dam as a competing option to license renewal. American Rivers v. FERC, No. 98-70079, Jan. 14, 2000 (9th Cir.).

Canadian Power Imports. A federal appeals court ruled that the Cree Indians of Quebec lacked standing in U.S. courts to challenge the right of Hydro-Quebec to sell power in the United States at market-based rates.

The Crees had appealed a 1998 FERC order that found that Hydro-Quebec had no undue market power in generation and transmission in the United States. Grand Council of the Crees v. FERC, No. 98-1280, Jan. 11, 2000 (D.C.Cir.).

PUC Liability. A federal appeals court denied an appeal by Michigan PSC commissioners John Strand, John Shea and David Svanda, in which they asked the court to dismiss a suit filed by Ameritech that named them as individuals, in a case involving an arbitration decision under Telecom Act Sec. 252.

The court said the commissioners were logical defendants since they would be enforcing arbitration agreements under the Telecom Act. Michigan Bell Tel. Co. v. Climax Tel. Co., No. 98-1315, Jan. 18, 2000 (6th Cir.).

Rural Telecom Development. Affirming an order from the FCC,