The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has released for comment its Draft Plan on Electric Industry Restructuring, which would allow all retail customers to choose their generation supplier beginning in January 2000. The draft permits customers to aggregate, and does not require reciprocity based on retail access in other states or Canada.
Investor-owned utilities (IOUs) would have to structurally separate generation by January 2000, and divest all generation assets by January 2006. (Munis and co-ops would not be subject to separation and divestiture requirements.) IOUs would also transfer the right to market output of all qualifying facility (QF) contracts by January 2000. QF legal contracts would remain in force, but the legal obligations would rest with regulated transmission and distribution (T&D) companies. Maine Yankee nuclear plant decommissioning liability would be collected in T&D rates.
Standard-offer service would be provided through periodic competitive bids for customers that do not choose an alternative generation provider. Requests for bids would be capped so that the retail price for generation service combined with the regulated rates of the T&D company would not exceed the bundled rate for electricity prior to retail access.
Utilities would be given a reasonable opportunity, comparable to that existing under present regulation, to recover generation-related costs stranded by retail access. Nevertheless, utilities would be required to take all reasonable steps to mitigate stranded costs. The PUC would determine any generation-related stranded costs that exist as of January 2000. That amount would be reviewed and subject to adjustment until 2006, when stranded costs would become fixed. Stranded costs associated with QF contracts would be adjusted periodically until contract termination. Generation costs or obligations incurred after March 1995 would not be recovered through regulated rates as stranded costs.
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