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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 2000

which marketer to choose," said PSC chairman Stan Wise. "Further, by making this information readily available to the public, it is our hope that marketers will continue to appreciate the need to run clean and efficient operations in this state." See

Power Outages. The Maryland PSC called on interested parties to determine whether performance standards would enhance utility reliability and mitigate storm-related outages, following a request by Gov. Paris Glendening for an investigation of power outages.

The PSC also instructed investor-owned utilities to consult with out-of-state utilities to improve existing plans and procedures for the exchange of crews and other resources when needed, to evaluate the undergrounding of selective segments of utility transmission and distribution systems, and the need for legislation or rules for tree trimming on private property.

Beginning Jan. 31, electric utilities must report every three months on the status of their self-assessment processes to ensure reliability. Order No. 75823, Dec. 13, 1999 (Md.P.S.C.).

T&D Rates. The Maine PUC OK'd a settlement setting a revenue requirement (excluding stranded costs) at $16.4 million, including a 10.7 percent cost of equity, for transmission and distribution service by Maine Public Service Co. The settlement also calls for a "top-down" method for setting core class rate design, backing off the generation cost from current rates using standard offer prices. Docket No. 98-577, Dec. 1, 1999 (Me.P.U.C.).

Standard Offers. The Maine PUC also moved to sort out issues regarding standard offer service on several fronts:

* Bangor Hydro. It set rates at 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., to apply until it can designate another wholesale supplier for BHE. Docket No. 99-111, Dec. 3, 1999 (Me.P.U.C.).

* Central Maine Power. It designated Energy Atlantic to provide standard offer service for residential and small non-residential customers of Central Maine Power Co., setting a rate of $0.4089 per kilowatt-hour for a two-year period beginning March 1. Docket No. 99-111, Dec. 3, 1999 (Me.P.U.C.).

* Undivested Assets (CMP). It approved the sale to Engage Energy US L.P. and Select Energy Inc. of Central Maine's capacity and energy entitlements from its undivested generation assets. The levelized prices of the winning Engage bid and Select bid were, respectively, $0.0279 and $0.0490 per kilowatt-hour. The bids were "coupled." Engaged "presumably" will use the entitlements to supply EA for its standard offer service. Docket No. 99-764, Dec. 3, 1999 (Me.P.U.C.).

* Undivested Assets (BHE). It approved the designation of Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc. as the winning bidder to purchase capacity and energy entitlements from most of BHE's non-divested generation assets and contracts. Docket No. 99-284, Dec. 3, 1999 (Me.P.U.C.).

Retroactive Billing. Backing off on its original 10-year proposal, which all commenting regulators opposed, the Iowa board set a time limit of five years for both refunding and back-billing customers of electric, gas, water and telephone utilities. Docket No. RMU-99-3, Nov. 29, 1999 (Iowa Utils.Bd.).

PBR Plans. Regulators in three states in the Midwest considered plans for performance-based rates for both electric and gas utility service.

* Illinois. Nicor Gas accepted a PBR plan that will compare gas