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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - December 2000

idea at the public hearing on California power markets held in San Diego on Sept. 12.

Claiming the PX-ISO schism had nothing to do with market disruptions, Sladoje argued that the PX actually had developed a greater variety of liquid trading products than ISO-operated energy markets in Eastern states.

"The CalPX ... has created numerous exchange services that are not available in PJM or in the other eastern ISOs," said Sladoje. "ISO-operated energy markets are largely self-contained within the 'four walls' of that ISO's control area," he added, while "Cal PX, in contrast, has ventured beyond the boundaries of the ISO-operated grid [to] the broader market represented by the Western Systems Coordinating Council."

And Sladoje defended the PX as gentle on power prices: "California's wholesale prices were somewhat lower than those in the Pacific Northwest and the Inland Southwest in May through August." .

 

State PUCs

Post-transition Ratemaking. Claiming that "electric restructuring in California is at a crossroads," Southern California Edison urged the state PUC, in its investigation of post-transition ratemaking mechanisms for the state's three investor-owned electric utilities, to adopt a four-point plan to manage the crisis:

  • Continued market reform with greater freedom for utilities;
  • Confirmation that utilities eventually will be permitted to recover their "reasonable" energy procurement costs incurred on behalf of customers;
  • A new, post-freeze rate stabilization plan to replace the current immediate passthrough of volatile wholesale power costs to utility generation customers; and
  • A prompt final decision on whether the PUC will permit the utilities to sell off their remaining generation assets.

Said Edison, "Allowing the uncollected power costs to continue to grow without providing assurance of their probably ultimate recovery--and without actually commencing the process of that recovery--will almost inevitably lead to serious statewide consequences, including the probability that financially weakened utilities will not be able to build and modernize necessary infrastructure [or] contract for power." .

Standard Offer Re-enlistment. As an emergency measure, the Maine PUC re-instated a rule requiring electric customers to pay an opt-out fee or commit to receive 12 months of service on quitting a competitive energy supplier and returning to standard offer retail service.

The PUC earlier had relaxed the rule for service changes requested outside the summer months, but reneged on discovering it had weakened the deterrent effect of the opt-out fee, calling the prior decision an "inadvertent error." .

Retail Gas Choice. Michigan allowed Consumers Energy Co. to double and then triple the number of customers eligible for its voluntary program for retail gas choice, from 300,000 accounts to 600,000 in April 2001, and then 900,000 by April 2002. .

Electric Bill Formats. Ohio issued rules governing bill formats for electric utilities, for both customers taking standard offer service and for those who shop for alternative supply services, setting out rules for unbundling separate prices for generation, delivery, and customer account charges, plus any added discounts above a generation back-out credit designed as an incentive to encourage customers to switch suppliers. Case Nos. 00-1596-EL-UNC, 00-1998-EL-UNC, Oct. 26, 2000 (Ohio P.U.C.).

Winter Gas Rate Relief. New York OK'd a natural