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News Digest

PUC Oversight: Panacea or New Problem?
Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 2000

the energy we use to heat and light our homes, fuel our vehicles, or power our factories," said the study's author, Ravi Krishnan, associate director, public utilities practice at Fuld & Co.

The study says that the issue could become "politically decisive" in the upcoming presidential election. Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, Jr. has said that federal funds should be allocated to help defray the cleanup costs and stabilize electric rates, while, at press time, Republican candidate and Texas Gov. George W. Bush had not commented on the EPA ruling. Contact Patti Kane, 781-444-5543.



PCB Contamination. A federal appeals court remanded a 1998 rulemaking case back to the Environmental Protection Agency, asking the EPA to explain why it did not act on more than a dozen comments from electric utilities asking for a nationwide variance for the electric industry from rules concerning the storage and reuse of manufactured articles (capacitors, transformers, motors, etc.) after contamination by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). .

State Sales Taxes. A Florida appeals court ruled that municipal electric utilities enjoy an exemption from paying state sales taxes on purchases of plant and equipment for repair, or replacement of existing transmission or distribution systems. The court then certified the question to the state supreme court to get confirmation. .

Municipal Franchise Fees. A California appeals court dismissed most claims in a class action by some 72 cities in California against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for underpayment of municipal franchise fees, but allowed 14 cities to go forward in the lawsuit. The court found sufficient evidence that the 14 cities might have formed municipal utility departments at around the turn of the century-a factor that, if true, would limit the extent of PG&E's franchise rights under the state constitution and imply higher franchise fees. .


Power Plants

Outage Responsibility. The New York PSC implemented a bill signed into law Aug. 8, directing Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc. to refund to ratepayers some $162 million that the utility had been charging for replacement power it purchased after the forced outage of the Indian Point No. 2 Nuclear Generating Facility (IP2) on Feb. 15, when a small amount of radioactive steam was released from the plant as a result of a tube rupture in a steam generator.

The state legislature passed the law after finding that Con Ed "failed to exercise reasonable care on behalf of the health, safety and economic interests of its customers." .

Meanwhile, on the same day, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that its staff had cited Con Ed for three violations of "low to moderate safety significance" related to the emergency preparedness program at IP2. In a letter to the company, Region I administrator Hubert J. Miller wrote, "These failures [to meet NRC emergency planning standards] contributed to emergency response deficiencies that were exhibited during the course of the steam generator tube failure Alert Event."

Nuclear Sales. State regulators confirmed sales of utility ownership interests in a number of nuclear generating plants in the Northeast.

  • Millstone. Connecticut announced