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News Digest

Transmission & ISOs
Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 2000

a temporary suspension of the deadline during "the infancy" of the state's open access program. By contrast, Consumers Energy opposed the waiver, saying it recently had shared information with Nordic indicating that firm transmission into Michigan from Chicago, Dayton, and western Pennsylvania "may yet be available."

According to the PSC, Consumers Energy had complained that Nordic simply wanted "an excuse it can give its retail customers regarding why it has failed to commence service."


Public Power

Salt River Project. The Salt River Project's board of directors on April 10 approved a measure to allow all 710,000 of its electric customers to choose a generation supplier sometime after May 31, 2000 - seven months earlier than required by Arizona's electric restructuring law - which would make it the first public power entity in the nation to open its entire service area to competition.


State PUCs

Metering. The staff of the Illinois Commerce Commission proposed a rule for certifying meter service providers that would require each MSP to maintain a customer call center with minimum performance standards for call answer time (60 seconds) and abandoned calls (not to exceed 10 percent).

The staff said the MSP requirements were "parallel" to those required for competitive energy retailers.

Gas Rate Design. To save residential and small commercial customers from paying higher rates to cover costs that arise when large customers switch rapidly between transportation and sales service (to profit from short-term price movements in natural gas markets) the North Carolina commission authorized Public Service Co. of North Carolina to modify its tariffs to include separate methods for setting gas commodity cost charges for residential and small commercial natural customers vs. large-volume customers.

Commodity charges for smaller users will remain tied to a benchmark derived from long-term gas price projections, but commodity charges for large-volume customers will change monthly on the basis of reported market prices.

Electronic Data. The New York Public Service Commission directed utilities within 180 days to file final standards for using Electronic Data Interchange for sharing customer enrollment and billing information - and to start testing EDI protocols during the fourth quarter of 2000, so as to "begin the cutover" to full EDI implementation by 2001.

The PSC also solicited comments, due within 45 days, on modifications to its uniform business practices needed to accommodate EDI, and expected that proposed revisions would be compiled by the end of July.

Weatherization. The Maryland PSC said that for now it would maintain "narrow parameters" for home weatherization projects eligible for funding assistance, restricting projects to shell repairs and upgrades, and excluding other measures such as appliance replacement.

Commissioner Catherine I. Riley disagreed with the failure to include inexpensive measures such as energy-efficient light bulbs and showerheads under the weatherization umbrella. "This new interpretation is a step backward," she said.

The Michigan PSC OK'd an alternative capacity solicitation process for Detroit Edison and Consumers Energy to update procedures last set in 1992, deciding not to bar the utilities from buying capacity from affiliates, but warning that it will not accept any affiliate transaction designed