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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 2000

charging discriminatory rates for wholesale power supply because the contract rate was based on costs of power plants subsequently sold off under restructuring orders. The FERC set a date of Oct. 1, 2001 for an initial decision in the case. .

 

State PUCs

Electric Retail Choice. The District of Columbia PSC took the first major step to implement the city's new law on electric restructuring by mandating that all DC residential electric customers should enjoy retail supply choice by Jan. 1.

The order allows customers to switch back and forth from suppliers to standard offer service as often they wish, but also allows the local utility (Potomac Electric Power Co.) to ask for reconsideration if it can show that such liberal switching allows customers to "game" the system.

The PSC OK'd the use of electronic data interchange (EDI) for data transfers, and a working group will report back on ideas for monitoring market power. .

Metering & Billing. Virginia regulators set a public hearing for Nov. 1 to consider a draft plan under its electric restructuring law for the design of retail electric metering and billing services. .

Municipalization. In its first decision on the issue, the New York PSC directed a municipality to pay an exit fee (nearly three times the settlement offered by the village) to the regulated investor-owned electric utility to cover the utility's stranded costs resulting from a decision by the village to form its own municipal utility distribution system.

The PSC rejected claims by the village (Lakewood) that stranded costs need only include avoided marginal operating costs, describing that idea as "unfair and contrary to our long-standing policies to discourage uneconomic bypass of the company's delivery system."

The PSC noted that the utility designed and operated its existing system under legal obligations to serve all customers in its territory regardless of cost. "Lakewood unfairly proposes an exit fee as if such requirements never existed," the PSC said. .

Natural Gas Commodity Prices. The Kentucky PSC opened an investigation of natural gas prices, which it said had doubled in July from the year before. It will ask whether natural gas local distribution companies are extending best efforts to procure gas for resale at a reasonable cost, and whether they are conducting purchases with affiliates at arm's length. .

Gas System Maintenance. The Pennsylvania PUC told the Philadelphia municipal gas utility to develop a plan for more aggressive pipeline inspections, after the PUC took jurisdiction over the municipal utility for the first time under the new state law on natural gas deregulation. "Considering the age of PGW's system, as well as the high density of service connections per mile of main, we are taking extraordinary measures to ensure that safety inspections occur much more frequently than required by federal standards during this initial winter season," the PUC said. .

Standard Offer Tariffs. The Arkansas PSC issued guidelines for electric utilities to file standard offer tariffs to carry out the state's plan for electric retail choice, but stressed that it would not OK any final tariff design that would