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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 2000

electric industry, requiring electric distribution companies to provide aggregate data on existing and planned generating capability by control area and regional reliability council. Docket No. L- 00980136, Dec. 2, 1999 (Pa.P.U.C.).

Reserve Capacity. The Florida PSC on Dec. 8 OK'd a proposal by three utilities (Florida Power Corp., Florida Power & Light and Tampa Electric) to boost reserve requirements from 15 percent to 20 percent by the summer of 2004.

Florida Power said it intends to accelerate the build out of its planned Hines 2 unit, a 500-MW partner of the already operating Hines 1. President and chief executive officer Joe Richardson said that his company made the proposal because "it increases reliability for customers and it allows us to work within the current regulatory framework."

Power Outages. Michigan Circuit Court judge Ellis Reid gave tentative approval to a proposed settlement between Commonwealth Edison Co. and some 30,000 class action plaintiffs (customers) that calls for any customer who went without power for over 12 consecutive hours during power outages in July 1995 to receive a "customer outage credit," ranging from $7 for residential customers to $260 for certain nonresidential customers. Some customers would receive additional compensation for food spoilage, other perishable items and damage caused by power surges. Total benefits available to the class equal about $2.5 million. A hearing was scheduled for March.

"As a matter of law, we believe that ComEd is not responsible for heat-related damages," said Pamela B. Strobel, ComEd's vice president and general counsel. "We simply feel that it is time to close this chapter in our history and concentrate on the ongoing improvements to our delivery system and the exciting opportunities presented by restructuring, competition and our recently announced merger."

**Mergers & Acquisitions

SCANA + PSNC. North Carolina OK'd the merger of SCANA Corp. with Public Service Co. of North Carolina. It told PSNC to cut rates by $2 million (over 18 months following the closing date) and imposed a five-year moratorium on general rate cases.

Approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission was still required. Docket No. G-5 Sub 400, Dec. 7, 1999 (N.C.U.C.).

ONEOK + Southwestern Gas. The Arizona commission postponed hearings until Feb. 11 on the proposed merger of ONEOK Inc. and Southwestern Gas, after Southern Union Co. (a rival bidder for Southwest Gas) had filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Arizona commissioner Jim Irvin and former commission secretary Jack Rose unlawfully blocked Southern Union's efforts to acquire Southwest Gas. The suit alleged that Rose improperly brokered a deal to finance ONEOK's merger with Southwest Gas, in exchange for a 35 percent cut of any fee paid by ONEOK to Prudential Securities.

**Studies & Reports

Green Power Marketing. A report from management and communications consulting firm, Environmental Futures Inc., finds broad differences from state to state on what qualifies as "green" or "renewable" power. The "Green-e" certification program in Pennsylvania, for example, includes energy efficiency in its definition of renewable energy, while the Green-e program in California does not. Meanwhile, Texas green power regulations accept natural gas as "green."

"Consumers believe that their