Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Beth Lewis
ELECTRIC RETAIL PRICES. The Energy Information Administration has released a new report finding that the average retail price of electricity has declined for the third year in a row and remained stable for the first nine months of 1997. According to Electric Sales and Revenue 1996, average residential electric prices declined slightly in 1996, the first drop for that consumer class since the EIA began collecting data in 1984.
Phillip S. Cross
ON THE LAST DAY OF 1997, A U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN Texas struck down sections of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that prevent former Bell System operating companies (BOCs) from entering certain lines of business, including interstate (and interLATA) long-distance. Some see the case as a clear victory for the BOCs. Others say it disrupts the delicate compromise forged by Congress among many diverse interests. In truth, the court's decision prompts a single question: Can Congress single out the BOCs for special treatment?
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
UTILITY HOUSE CALLS. Michigan Gov. John Engler (R) signed into law a bill making it a felony to impersonate a utility employee to enter private property for criminal purposes. The new law calls for those convicted to be imprisoned for not more than two years and to pay a maximum fine of $1,000, or both.
ELECTRIC RESTRUCTURING. Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar (R) signed into law an electric restructuring bill for the state. Edgar noted that concerns over the bill were addressed by the state's two largest utilities, Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Power Co.
AMID WORRIES THAT RESIDENTIAL CONSUMERS MAY NOT benefit from competition comes a study that shows at least one industry will: metering. This market is expected to grow an average of 5 percent per year through 2002.
By 2002, the metering industry is expected to be worth $3.1 billion, up from $2.4 billion last year, says Metering for Utilities: Riding the Wave of Deregulation, a new book from Business Communications Co.
Overall, meter reading systems are expected to log the highest average annual growth rate, about 16 percent each year over the next five years.
Lori A. Burkhart, and Phillip S. Cross
POWER PLANT SALE. Central Maine Power Co. has agreed to
sell its hydroelectric, fossil and biomass power plants totaling 1,185-MW of generating capacity to FPL Group, the holding company of Florida Power and Light. The sale price of $846 million exceeds book value and could permit up to a 10-percent rate cut for customers by the end of the year.
OHIO/TEXAS DEAL. Ohio-based American Electric Power
Co. and Texas-based Central and South West Corp. on Dec.
THE former chairman of the Missouri Public Service Commission, Karl Zobrist, is now a partner at Blackwell Sanders Matheny Weary & Lombardi LLP.
Zobrist resigned from the commission on Aug. 15, 1997.
Robert C. Kelly, former chairman and CEO of Enron Renewable Energy Corp., was named managing director of renewable energy for Enron International.
Steven J. Lewis joined AEP Energy Services Inc. as senior vice president of energy services. Previously, Lewis managed trading of natural gas and electricity for Duke/Louis Dreyfus LLC.
Nuclear Plant Fines. The Nuclear Regulatory Commis-
sion has proposed fines totaling $2.1 million against Northeast Nuclear Energy Co. for many violations at the company's Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford, Conn. The fine marks the largest civil penalty ever proposed by the NRC. Northeast Utilities said it will pay the fine, which it called "a necessary and important step toward bringing to closure a very disappointing and difficult chapter in the company's history." The utility said it will not pass the cost onto ratepayers.
George R. Pleat
MANY STATES ARE CONSIDERING THE IDEA OF opening billing and metering to competition at traditional distribution companies. %n1%n Electric utility executives can no longer assume that a regulated monopoly distribution company, or "disco," will retain control of both the "wires" function and billing and metering services. %n2%n
This new prospect raises questions: Should a disco seek to retain billing and metering as a regulated monopoly, complete with the obligation to serve all customers requesting electric connections?
Ralph D. Masiello
YEAR 2000. MILLENNIUM. DEREGULATION. Each word strikes fear into the heart of meter manufacturers and utilities alike. Like the turning of the century, deregulation is coming for the electric utility industry, and sooner than we think. How will it affect the metering industry?
The first real indication can be found in California. There, by order of the state public utilities commission, the customer's energy supplier (the energy service provider or the utility distribution company) will, for the time being, own the meter.
CNG Energy Service Corp. appointed Jeff Johnson senior vice president of integrated energy management. Jerome H. Dortmans was appointed vice president of financial trading and risk management.
Alan Wells was named senior vice president of finance and CFO for MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. and its subsidiary MidAmerican Energy. Wells replaces Phil Lindner who announced his retirement. Wells also will continue to serve as president of the company's nonutility subsidiaries.
Fred D. Hafer assumed office as chairman of the Pennsylvania Electric Association.