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News Digest

Electric Reliability
Fortnightly Magazine - June 15 2000

for each monthly peak- and off-peak period, Com Ed would use locational marginal prices from the 1999 PJM-West Interconnection. The price shape data is then used to translate average block price data into hour-by-hour market values.

Electric Choice. Regulators in Virginia OK'd the state's first pilot program (in Richmond, served by Virginia Power) for electric supplier choice, to be available Sept. 1. The program will double in 2001, when another 35,000 customers become eligible in a service area yet to be determined. It was described as "large enough to attract competitive suppliers yet manageable enough to avoid administrative pitfalls."

Utility Marketing Affiliates. The Wisconsin PSC ruled that utilities and their affiliates could continue to share resources with all costs fully allocated- except where such sharing is expressly barred, as in natural gas marketing. It found no present need for rules on standards of conduct, but said it would continue to monitor dealings between utilities and affiliates through the existing law, including the state's holding company statute.

Medical Equipment. The New York PSC called on utilities to improve service to customers using electricity to run life support equipment (LSE). It said that any customer information system should be capable of identifying customer accounts using LSE in case of outages, voltage instability, or brownout conditions. It recommended that utilities install devices like Central Hudson's "Advisor" or Con Ed's POND.

Shopping Credits. To discourage large-volume customers from churning accounts, the Delaware PSC allowed Delaware Electric Co-op Inc. to force customers with demands greater than 300 kilowatts to stay on with the co-op if they return to take bundled electric distribution and commodity service. The PSC set the co-op's shopping credit at 5.197 cents per kilowatt-hour, ignoring the co-op's protest that the figure exceeded Delmarva P&L's shopping credit (4.846 cents) and would offer a "false price signal."

Real-time Pricing. Responding to complaints from the Georgia Textile Manufacturers Association and Georgia Industrial Group, the Georgia PSC modified how Georgia Power calculates real-time pricing rates paid by its largest industrial customers, requiring the utility to use the average cost. The change should lower rates by $7 million annually.

Shopping Credits. The Midwest Marketers' Coalition opposed the transition plan settlement proposed on April 17 between the Ohio PUC staff and FirstEnergy, claiming it would set an artificially low shopping credit. "In both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the shopping credits were set below the cost of supplying retail customers," claimed Scott Brown, spokesman for the coalition. "After two years of competition in both states, less than 1 percent of residential customers have switched."

Gas Pilot Programs. The Iowa board allowed MidAmerican Energy Co. to extend a gas sales pilot program that offers long-term contracts to smaller customers at a fixed commodity price, despite allegations that the program might hamper the development of gas competition in the state.

Natural Gas Rates. The Wyoming PSC allowed Questar Gas Co. to continue to earn an 11.83 percent return on common equity, saying it was reluctant to penalize the company for having filed the rate case voluntarily to reduce rates.

Purchased Power. Noting the