Retail Energy Choice . At press time, Virginia issued proposed interim rules governing pilot programs for electric retail competition in electricity and natural gas, with comments due Feb. 24. The interim rules were not expected to resolve all issues, but only to provide a starting point to gain experience.
Among other points, the interim rules would require utilities to make information available through electronic bulletin boards on availability of commodity supply, ancillary services, and transmission and distribution capacity. Case No. PUE980812, Feb. 10, 2000 (Va. S.C.C.).
Discounted Rate Contracts . Even though Ohio will launch retail electric competition on Jan. 1, 2001, the PUC denied a request for rehearing filed by Enron and OK'd certain special customer contracts proposed by Ohio Edison Co. and Cleveland Electric Illuminating.
The PUC said it would wait until reviewing and approving individual utility transition plans to get "a clearer picture" of what to do about such contracts, but said it had not yet precluded any option. Case Nos. 99-389-EL-AEC et al., Feb. 3, 2000 (Ohio P.U.C.).
Performance-based Rates . Connecticut regulators set rough guidelines for performance-based rate plans, declining to set uniform standards, as that might overly constrict the future design of PBR plans. However, the new general guidelines do call for company-specific performance measures and collars on return on equity, and envision a plan term of between three and six years.
The PBR guidelines specify such performance measures as SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index) and either SAIFI (System Average Interruption Duration Frequency Index) or CAIDI (Customer Average Interruption Duration Index) as appropriate to track reliability, and emphasize that penalties for reliability erosion should exceed the financial rewards of poor performance.
Peter Navarro, testifying for the state's Office of Consumer Counsel, warned the commission that setting initial baseline rates too high would generate false cost savings. Navarro added that PBR is "easy to do poorly, but difficult to do well." Docket No. 99-06-21, Feb. 2, 2000 (Conn.D.P.U.C).
Supplier of Last Resort. The Nevada PUC will conduct a hearing on March 20 to address comments on draft rules proposed on Feb. 7 governing obligations for a supplier of last resort under the state's scheme for retail choice in electricity. Docket No. 97-8001, Feb. 8, 2000 (Nev.P.U.C.).
Underground Lines. California opened a rulemaking docket to implement state Assembly Bill 1149, which requires the PUC to consider ways to help convert existing overhead electric and communications lines to underground service. The PUC was to hold its first workshop Feb. 10 and must report back to the legislature by Jan. 1, 2001. R. 00-01-005, Jan. 6, 2000 (Cal.P.U.C.).
A white paper released late last year by the PUC's energy division had reported underground conversion costs as running between $0.5 million and $3 million per mile, but cited other evidence of lower costs (less than $150,000 per mile) developed from experience gained in reconstruction after the Oakland fires of several years back.
Distributed Generation . The California PUC was to hold its third workshop on distribution system planning and operations on Feb. 17 to resolve questions posed by