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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - April 1 2000

Rhode Island PUC ordered Narragansett Electric Co. to stop paying employee bonuses out of a fund earmarked to aid energy conservation, even though the purpose of the bonuses was to reward utilities for reducing energy usage.

The PUC called for an audit of all the utility's bonus plans and may consider the issue as part of its larger review of the proposed merger between New England Electric System (owner of Narragansett Electric) and Blackstone Valley Electric and Newport Electric.

Merger Savings. The Kansas commission ordered West Plains Energy Kansas (an operating division of UtiliCorp United) to reduce charges by $8.7 million to reflect savings realized by the acquisition of Centel Corp in 1991.

But the commission set return on equity at 10.55 percent, rejecting a lower figure proposed by its staff because it reflected a study that had counted Empire State Electric and St. Joseph Power & Light as proxy companies when at the same time they proposed to merge with UtiliCorp. .

Water Plant Construction. The West Virginia PSC approved a partnership whereby West Virginia-American Water Co. will construct and lease new water utility facilities to be funded and owned by a municipal agency. The utility would collect a surcharge to fund the repayment of bonds issued by the municipality, while adding the leased property to rate base. .

Business Wire

In one of the largest commitments of its type in the history of the U.S. power industry, GE Power Systems has completed a multi-year effort and secured agreements totaling nearly $4 billion to supply power generation equipment and services to Duke Energy North America . The agreements cover the purchase of 84 gas turbines, 17 steam turbines, and long-term services agreements for up to 23 merchant power plants across the country. When completed, the power plants will produce more than 13 gigawatts of power for the wholesale U.S. market.

United American Energy Corp. and Southern Co. Energy Marketing have entered a fuel-for-electricity agreement for United American Energy's 82-megawatt power plant in Lowell, Mass. In what is known as a "tolling" agreement, Southern Co. Energy Marketing will have the exclusive right to supply fuel to and receive electricity from the generating plant, which operates primarily on natural gas. Southern will market and trade electricity from the plant in the New England Power Pool . Exact terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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. Usource is Unitil's Internet energy auction system serving large commercial and industrial customers. Under the technology agreement with Unitil, BusinessEdge will design and implement an eBusiness strategy using flow-through processing of transactions in a deregulated energy environment. BusinessEdge will integrate Unitil's enhanced back-office applications with the Enermetrix.com Exchange while providing gateway connectivity to suppliers.

Altair Energy, Public Service Co. of Colorado 's solar electric partner, has announced that a Jefferson County, Colo., family has chosen to meet most of its estate's electric needs with a record-sized solar electric system, the