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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 2000

in May their intent to merge, Wisconsin Public Service Corp., a subsidiary of WPS Resources Corp., and Wisconsin Fuel & Light confirmed their interest in a combination on July 13 by signing a definitive agreement that would give WF&L shareholders 1.73 WPSR common shares for each WF&L common share, as long as WPSR common stock trades between $27.79 and $33.96.

Florida Progress + CP&L. The Florida PSC on July 7 opened a docket to review the earnings of Florida Power Corp., including the effects of the merger between parent company, Florida Progress Corp. with Carolina Power & Light Co. The review is not expected to delay merger closing, scheduled for the fall. .

The FERC also approved the merger, relying on a letter filed June 30 by Florida Power's Vincent Dolan and CP&L's Frank Schiller, on plans to form regional transmission organizations. The letter promised that (1) a new Florida transco would file an application with the FERC by Aug. 15, and (2) that CP&L had made "significant and substantive progress" toward either forming a new Southeastern RTO or else joining an existing RTO.

But Tampa Electric Co. attacked the merger and asked for rehearing. It claimed that a competitive wholesale power market cannot function in Florida because the state Supreme Court in effect has banned new power plants by out-of-state merchant generators. .

Lyonnaise + United Water. The New Jersey board on July 6 approved the first international takeover of a New Jersey utility by giving the green light to French company Lyonnaise American Holding to acquire United Water Resources. Lyonnaise increased its ownership in the nation's second-largest water services company from 30 percent to 100 percent, marking the water industry's largest transfer of ownership.

The order calls for a rate freeze for United Water-New Jersey for two-and-one-half years, as well as maintenance of present employee levels for one year. The company also agreed not to seek any recovery of transaction costs.

Southern Union. The Missouri PSC allowed Southern Union Co. to acquire three New England natural gas utilities-Fall River Gas Co., Providence Energy Corp., and Valley Resources Inc. Regulators in Massachusetts and Rhode Island still must OK the deals. .

NS Power + Bangor. Canadian company NS Power Holdings, parent of Nova Scotia Power and minority owner of Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, will purchase Maine-based Bangor Hydro-Electric for $206 million.

 

State PUCs

Electronic Data Interchange. The Pennsylvania PUC instructed electric distribution utilities and competitive energy suppliers to conduct transactions using an approved Internet protocol for electronic data interchange by March 31, 2001, but allowed such companies to ask for relief from the deadline if necessary. The PUC named the Gas Industry Standards Board Electronic Data Delivery Mechanism and EDIINT AS2 as being the "acceptable Internet protocols." .

Gas Capacity Rights. The New York PSC reaffirmed a prior ruling that natural gas marketers no longer need to have firm capacity during the off-peak summer months (), but said it would reevaluate the issue in an upcoming gas rate and restructuring case involving Consolidated Edison Co., which had petitioned the commission