Although problems in the power business grabbed the headlines early this decade, the industry now seems fundamentally strong. In contrast to their ratings of banks, rating agencies appear to have...
run by ISO New England, and its potential liability to pay the ISO's ICAP deficiency charge of $8.75 per kilowatt-month, as approved on Dec. 15 by the FERC . . -B.W.R.
Standard Offer Rates. Massachusetts allowed several electric utilities to boost rates for standard offer service by 1.321 cents per kilowatt-hour to pass on to customers certain increases in fuel costs, but required two utilities to recalculate their proposed increases (1.462 cents) to reflect the most recent 12 months (instead of six months) of fuel cost data. . -L.A.B.
Billing Formats. Citing the high cost to utilities of re-writing software, Ohio denied a request by state's Council of Retail Merchants to require all of the state's electric distribution utilities to adopt identical bill formats, and issued various waivers from billing format rules:
- Allowed to combine customer charge and delivery charge in one line item, deleting any reference to "customer charge," and to itemize "transmission service" separately from delivery charge.
- Can redefine "delivery charge" as "charge for moving electricity over electric transmission and distribution lines."
- After unbundling, can include separately itemized transmission and ancillary service charges in notice of "price to compare," to encourage customers to consider avoidable wires fees in addition to generation in deciding whether to switch.
- Can eliminate "price to beat" language on assumption that customers may switch for reasons other than price.
- Can combine customer charge with delivery charge and omit "price to compare" for demand-metered customers (as can CG&E). . -B.W.R.
Electric Metering. Virginia regulators issued a recommendation to the state's General Assembly to defer any legislative action to deregulate electric metering service, given what it described as "substantial questions" regarding benefits for residential and small commercial consumers, and the lack of market development in those states that had OK'd competitive metering.
Virginia Power, Allegheny Power, and Delmarva Power each agreed with the commission's advice, while American Electric Power and the state attorney general had urged the commission to make retail metering competitive "as soon as practicable." . -B.W.R.
Meter Service Providers. Illinois OK'd certification requirements and service standards governing meter service providers, spelling out many functions such as meter reading, installation and removal, maintenance, testing, and the collection, translation, and confidentiality of data. MSPs must maintain experienced staff on duty or on call 24 hours a day. .-P.C.
Supplier Licensing. The District of Columbia required competitive electric suppliers to post a $50,000 integrity bond (vs. only $10,000 for brokers and aggregators). It rejected proposals by the People's Counsel to require bonds of $150,000 and $250,000, respectively, for suppliers with annual revenues less than or greater than $2 million. . -B.W.R.
Other December Orders.
- OK'd rules governing the "supplier of last resort" of electric service. .
- Issued code of conduct for electric utilities and competitive power retailers. .
- Allowed Bangor Hydro to form an unregulated subsidiary to offer fiber optic capacity to telecom carriers. .
- Proposed rules under a new state law that allows rural electric co-op's to sell energy, water, and telecommunications services through separate business units. .
- OK'd return on common equity of 12.1 percent in