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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 2000

Inc. v. FERC, No. 98-1603, Jan. 18, 2000 (D.C.Cir.).


Federal Electric Restructuring. On Jan.5 Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) released a letter from FERC Chairman James Hoecker that described the proposed federal electric restructuring bill H.R. 2944 as "an unfortunate retreat from the goal of a competitive, efficient and transparent wholesale power market."

Hoecker said he preferred H.R. 2050 (Largent-Markey bill) or H.R. 1828 (Clinton administration bill).


KKR + DP&L. Dayton Power & Light Co. announced an agreement on Feb. 2 for certain affiliates of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. to invest $550 million in the utility and receive voting-preferred and trust-preferred securities and warrants with an exercise price of $21, representing 19.9 percent of DP&L shares outstanding and 4.9 percent of DP&L's total voting rights.

Earlier, DP&L had asked to recover about $686 million in stranded costs, including $441 million in after-tax transition costs, in a 3,000-page plan for consumer choice plan filed at the Ohio PUC.

ONEOK + Southwest Gas. Southwest Gas Corp. responded to ONEOK Inc.'s termination of the merger between the two companies by filing a lawsuit against ONEOK in U.S. District Court of Arizona in Phoenix, seeking damages for breach of contract.

In terminating the merger, ONEOK cited concerns over the lawsuit filed against Southwest Gas by spurned merger suitor Southern Union, which had alleged that Southwest and ONEOK conspired with an Arizona Corporation commissioner to scuttle the bid by Southern Union.

Pipeline Divestitures. El Paso Energy Corp. announced the divestiture of three major natural gas pipeline systems (East Tennessee, Sea Robin and Destin) to comply with Federal Trade Commission orders for approval of El Paso Energy's merger with Sonat Inc. All three sales were expected to close in the first quarter of 2000.

* Duke Energy Gas Transmission would buy East Tennessee Natural Gas Co. for $386.3 million.

* CMS Trunkline Gas Co. would purchase Sea Robin Pipeline for $72 million.

* An unnamed buyer was to purchase El Paso's one-third interest in the Destin Pipeline Co. LLC for $160 million, subject to a right of first refusal by El Paso Energy's partners in the venture.

CMP Group + Energy East. The Maine PUC OK'd the merger of CMP Group, parent company of Central Maine Power Co., with Energy East, the holding company for New York State Electric & Gas. Energy East would acquire CMP as a subsidiary. The PUC was to retain jurisdiction over EE affiliates to ensure that CMP will be able to recover any merger costs that exceed merger savings. Docket No. 99-411, Jan. 4, 2000 (Me.P.U.C.).


Nuke Plant Sales. The watchdog group, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, filed a petition at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Jan. 5 that challenges the proposed transfer of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant license from GPU Nuclear to AmerGen Energy Co.

NIRS alleges that AmerGen is financially unqualified to operate Oyster Creek because it has few assets and is a limited liability corporation. (The assets of its parent companies, PECO Energy and British Energy, cannot be seized in the event major