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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 2000

projected rate of inflation, the balance will grow to nearly $2.7 billion by 2030, the end of the contract term.

BUSINESS WIRE

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is adding six additional cities and Cooling Degree Day indexes to its weather futures contract listings. The CME will list both Heating Degree Day and Cooling Degree Day indexes for 10 cities, adding Dallas, Des Moines, Iowa, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., and Tucson, Ariz., to the previous HDD listings of Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati and New York. In addition, 12 monthly contract expirations will be offered, covering the period February 2000 through January 2001.

Austin Energy has selected Convergent Group Corp. to implement business process improvements designed to maximize the efficiency of the utility's energy delivery operations and the effectiveness of its customer service. Convergent Group's solution will detail steps the utility should take to maximize the efficiency of its energy delivery operations. The working solution, enabled by Convergent Group's Solutions Workbench, is an integrated suite of technologies designed to deliver the functionality required to support Austin Energy's management business objectives.

Unitil Corp. has signed an agreement with BusinessEdge Solutions Inc. to further automate the Usource product line for the mid-market segment of small to medium industrial and commercial customers. Under the technology agreement, BusinessEdge will design and implement an e-business strategy using flow-through processing of transactions in a deregulated energy environment. BusinessEdge, based in Edison, N.J., delivers e-business enablement and strategic information technology services, while Usource is Unitil's Internet energy auction system serving large commercial and industrial customers.

MDU Resources Group Inc. has signed an agreement to acquire Great Plains Natural Gas Co., a natural gas distribution company serving 19 communities in western Minnesota and southeastern North Dakota, in a stock-for-stock exchange. The acquisition is subject to the approval of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and the North Dakota Public Service Commission. Following the acquisition, Great Plains will be operated as a division of MDU.

A newly formed subsidiary of EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) will offer customized technical support services to both members and non-members of its research program. Called EPRIsolutions Inc., the for-profit subsidiary will hasten the application of EPRI technologies already developed through decades of collaborative research. "Technology holds the key to success in a more competitive electric industry," said Kurt Yeager, EPRI president and chief executive officer. "Applying advanced technologies, however, is more difficult in an era of severe cost cutting. EPRIsolutions will work directly with our customers to select, install and support those EPRI technologies most suitable for their particular needs."

Transmission Management- Doing the RTO Polka

By Bruce W. Radford. editor-in-chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly.

The Midwest ISO tried changing its tune to court Alliance, but ended up with ComEd. Now who's belle of the ball?

It seemed like a good idea. The consensus was that without the transmission facilities of American Electric Power Co., the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) would be too small for workable dispatch and congestion management in its area, and perhaps even too feeble to qualify as a regional transmission organization (RTO) under the