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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 2001

firms had likely overstated any gas industry inefficiencies. . -B.W.R.

Competitive Metering. After taking comments on draft practices and procedures for competitive electric metering services, New York told the state's electric utilities to cancel and reshape their proposed tariffs for competitive metering.

Meter providers and meter data management agents can offer services independent of commodity sales, but electricity customers cannot act as their own providers (though large-volume customers with time-of-use pricing can continue to own their interval meters). A more detailed order was to follow. . -B.W.R.

Other January Orders.

  • Arizona. Administrative Law Judge Jane Rodda files recommended amendments to rules governing the state's renewable portfolio standard, and proposing a "Solar Electric Fund" to collect and allocate deficiency penalties and fund solar energy projects. .
  • Arkansas. Opens inquiry on whether to require natural gas utilities to practice price hedging or offer fixed price schedules to customers. .
  • Florida. Approves rule to ensure funding for nuclear plant decommissioning, and require utilities to file studies every five years. .
  • Florida. Extends time period and eligibility for experimental plan for real-time pricing by Florida Power & Light Co. .
  • Maine. Finalizes rule to require electric customers to pay opt-out fee (even in winter) if they switch from competitive suppliers to standard offer utility service. .
  • Massachusetts. Forces natural gas utilities to cut back on their proposed increases in gas cost adjustment factors, to avoid rate shock, but acknowledges resulting deferral of costs as an undesirable byproduct of the policy. .
  • Michigan. Tells state's three largest electric utilities to file updated plans for generation and transmission capacity for summer season, fearing fallout from "California situation" and "changes in the wholesale market for electricity in the Midwest." .
  • New York. Extends system benefits charge for public purpose programs through June 2006, and sets assessments based on utility-specific share of statewide 1999 electric operating revenues, producing utility charges ranging from 1.11 to 2.07 mills/kWh, so as to raise $150 million per year statewide. .
  • Texas. Adopts pre-certification standards for distributed generation, allowing PUC-approved testing laboratories to designate specific models of small-scale generating facilities as safe to interconnect to the state's power grid. Jan. 29, 2001.
  • Wisconsin. Sets amounts utilities must contribute to public benefits fund to support programs aiding conservation, low-income assistance, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. . -B.W.R.

Power Plants

Florida Merchant Plants. Using a clever technique to overcome Florida's supposed hostile stance against merchant power plants, Calpine succeeded in winning certification for its 529-MW, gas-fired combined-cycle Osprey plant by proposing its out-of-rate-base project as a joint venture with Seminole Electric Co-op., which would receive plant capacity through a wholesale contract.

Calpine also avoided the state rule that requires investor-owned utilities who build power plants to solicit bids for supply-side alternatives. "We do not reach the question of whether Calpine, as a wholesale contract plant, is exempt from the bidding rule. [Instead] we base our decision ... on the allegation that Seminole is a cooperative utility that has contracted to purchase the output. ... Since the bidding rule was adopted we have never required cooperative or municipal