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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 2000

program that converts material from Russian nuclear warheads into fuel for commercial power plants. The equivalent of 4,000 nuclear warheads, or 100 metric tons of weapons grade uranium, have been converted into fuel for power plants and delivered to USEC.


Studies & Reports

Uniform Business Standards. A task force at the Gas Industry Standards Board has proposed forming a new organization to supplant GISB that would oversee development of uniform business standards across the energy industry, in both electric and natural gas markets, with standards for such functions as electronic exchange of information, record and data formats, communications protocols, and related business practices.

A 20-plus-page "strawman" document, issued Sept. 27, outlines ideas for membership, governance, committee structure, voting, and funding. See

Information Technology. Citing excessive costs and mixed reviews on "usability" and flexibility, the National Energy Marketers Association has recommended that state PUCs "mitigate" their use of the electronic data interchange (EDI) protocol by adopting the XML protocol (extensible markup language), sponsored in 1998 by the Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium, and designed specifically to send information over the Internet.

The NEMA issued its call in a white paper on uniform standards for delivery of energy products and services, including guidelines for technology and information exchange. See FinalUCC.pdf.


Power Plants

Standby Service. The New York PSC ruled that when electric utilities sell off generating plants, the PSC retains jurisdiction over rates the utility charges to the new owners for turnkey station use and start-up services, as such rates qualify as retail rates for standby sales when delivered by the franchised utility to the generator, rather than as wholesale rates for generation and transmission services, as the new owners had argued.

"Station use and start-up services ... are delivered through meters that measure retail consumption," said the PUC, "either for service provided to the generation facility when it is not operating, or for service electrically isolated and separately metered from the output of the facility when it is operating. ... Rather than being resold by the generator receiving it, [such] service is used on-site to operate the generator's facilities."

The PSC also rejected arguments by the new owners to net the standby services against plant output: "When the generator does not operate, there is nothing to net against, because all services are supplied from an outside source," it said. .

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation. FERC Commissioner Linda Breathitt questioned environmental claims in two cases granting licenses for hydroelectric and gas pipeline construction projects, arguing that in certifying the extent to which a given project would avoid greenhouse gas emissions, the project sponsors should not be allowed to proceed from a base line that assumes the absence of any project at all-an "impossible analysis," said Breathitt.

Nevertheless, she voted to license the two projects: (1) the 326-megawatt Missouri-Madison hydroelectric project proposed by PP&L Montana, and (2) gas pipeline looping facilities proposed by Reliant Energy Gas Transmission Co. to deliver gas to cogeneration facilities. .


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