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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 2000

for rehearing on the policy.

The PSC appeared somewhat swayed by ConEd's argument that gas marketers might lose capacity rights to electric generators, but saw no need to act immediately "because no plants are currently under construction in the New York City area and utilities still have capacity under contract." But it conceded that in the future, a generator conceivably could opt to take firm off-peak service, affecting service to high priority transportation customers. .

Right-of-Way Leasing. The California PUC OK'd an arrangement whereby Southern California Edison Co. will lease potential sites for telecommunications facilities, including underutilized land parcels, to Pacific Bell Mobile Services.

"It is sensible for California's energy utilities, with their extensive easements, rights-of-way, and cable facilities, to cooperate in this manner with the telecommunications utilities that are seeking to build an updated telecommunications network," the PUC said. "Joint use of utility facilities has obvious economic benefits."

The PUC approved a 90/10 allocation of such lease revenues between utility shareholders and ratepayers. .

Names, Brands, & Logos. Maryland regulators found it "appropriate, in principle," to impute a royalty to regulated gas and electric utilities for the goodwill value and other "unquantified benefits" inherent in the utility name and logo used by an unregulated affiliate (such use is permitted in the state), but will require a disclaimer that the utility and the affiliate operate as distinct corporate entities.

The state commission will open a separate case to calculate benefits and royalties, and has told most energy utilities to file cost allocation manuals no later than Nov. 1 to address cross-subsidies between utilities and affiliates. .

Arkansas Restructuring. The Arkansas PSC approved various measures over the summer to implement the state's electric restructuring law, the Electric Consumer Choice Act of 1999. n Billing and Metering. Introduces competition for production and issuance of bills, payment and collection, and related call center functions. (Metering and dissemination of metering information in "bill-ready" or "rate-ready" formats is still regulated.) .

  • EDI. Adopts standards for electronic data interchange by Jan. 1, 2002 (startup date for supply competition). Will address specific procedures for exchanging data in defined situations at a later date. .
  • Market Power. Requires utilities and utility affiliates to conduct market power analyses for all competitive products and services. .
  • Customer Education. Includes explanations of the standard-offer service package, itemized billing, reliability and safety, customer protections and rights, and confidentiality of customer-specific information. .
  • Utility Affiliates. Adopts an "arm's length" standard for review of deals between utilities and affiliates. .

Interruptible Rates. Responding to unusually high prices and increased demand for electricity, the Oregon PUC on June 30 approved a Portland General Electric pilot tariff that gives the utility's larger customers incentives to cut back on power usage. PGE will pay large industrial users that voluntarily cut their electric loads when prices are high a price that is less than it otherwise would cost PGE to buy power and serve them.

Purchased Power Costs. The Virginia commission OK'd a plan for Conectiv subsidiary Delmarva Power & Light Co. to separate its generation units from its distribution