CROSS THE COUNTRY, CRITICISM RISES FROM INVESTOR-owned utilities as public power agencies are drawn into regional or national markets through power pools and the geographic expansion of power marketing activities. Whether these agencies are seen as federally funded or just indirectly subsidized, the complaints remain the same: tax advantages, no reciprocity, exemptions from regulation.
Who really has power over the power? Do public power agencies enjoy an advantage, as private industry claims?
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Elizabeth Striano
PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION. Chief Judge D. Brock Hornby of the U.S. District Court in Maine, decided to allow Portland Natural Gas Transmission System access to electric transmission corridors owned by Central Maine Power Co. The access will be used to install a natural gas pipeline.
Portland received FERC approval Sept. 24 for installing and operating a 292-mile, $302-million interstate pipeline. CMP owns about 70 miles of the electric transmission corridor. The preliminary injunction, issued April 10, gives Portland access to property on CMP-owned transmission corridors.
UNISOURCE Energy Corp. elected Larry W. Bickle and Harold W. Burlingame to its board of directors. Bickle is the former chairman and CEO of TPC Corp. and cofounder and managing director of Haddington Ventures LLC. Burlingame is executive vice president of human resources at AT&T and a director of the Work in America Institute.
John Devine, vice president of Duke Engineering & Services, was elected president of the National Hydropower Association. Devine has served as a director of the National Hydropower Association since 1993.
RECENT CONFERENCE on independent system operators held by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was, in many respects, a tremendous achievement. It is a testimony to this Commission that its members can muster the stamina to listen to one-and-a-half days of mind-numbing technical discussion of power technology and regulation.
Nevertheless, there is inevitably a misstep or two in these massive "hearing-thons." In this case, the discussion nearly went awry when it turned to comparisons between transcos and ISOs.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
ENERGY SUPPORT SERVICES. An Illinois appeals court affirmed a 1997 decision by the state commission that had denied authority to Commonwealth Edison to offer "energy support services," such as design, engineering, construction, analysis and management of electrical power equipment and energy systems. The court made this decision despite the utility's argument that no evidence existed to support the commission's finding that ComEd enjoyed a monopolist's advantage over competitors.
Lori M. Rodgers
PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY SPOKE WITH FEDERAL Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman James Hoecker shortly after the Clinton Administration released its long-awaited Comprehensive Electricity Competition Plan.
Although Hoecker sees new legislation as only "the remotest of possibilities" for this session of Congress, he expects that the "real debate" will begin next year, with environmental issues perhaps proving to be the most difficult to solve.
Are mergers bad for competition? "Not necessarily," he says.
Lori A. Burkhart
IF AN INDEPENDENT SYSTEM OPERATOR OVERSEES THE TRANS-
mission grid, how much independence is too much? Should ISOs cede control over dispatch to scheduling coordinators, or market functions to a power exchange? Addressing some of these questions, a new report released in April by The Progress & Freedom Foundation criticizes a restructured electric industry built on ISOs with restricted authority.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
TELCO UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND. Reversing an appeals court, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Kansas Corporation Commission that had required wireless telecommunications carriers to contribute to the state's universal service fund. It also affirmed a KCC ruling setting the initial amount of the fund in a roundabout way based on equalizing inter- and intrastate long-distance rates.
The KCC order (issued Dec. 27, 1996) had slashed intrastate toll rates by $111 million over three years. It then cut access charges by an equal amount to offset the loss to toll carriers.
Joseph F. Schuler Jr.
WHAT IF YOUR STATE LEGISLATURE THREW A PARTY and you had to go? Best of all, this power party cost less than the one you went to (em and paid more to attend (em last year.
In simple terms, that's how some observe Ohio's latest proposal to convince the state's 11 million wary consumers to choose their electricity provider.
Two Republican state legislators have proposed the consumer-bent transitional system, called retail marketing areas or RMAs, as part of a broad electric restructuring program. The pair, Sen. Bruce E. Johnson and Rep. Priscilla D.
Bruce W. Radford
PLANS OK'D for electric IOUs under New York's Competitive Opportunities docket.
CENTRAL HUDSON GAS & ELECTRIC CORP. RETAIL CHOICE: Offered to 8 percent of total load in 1998; additional 8 percent each year; choice for all by July 1, 2001. SAVINGS: $10.5 million to fund 5-percent rate cut for large industrials; all other rates frozen (since 1993) through June 30, 2001. Earmarks $24.5 million for incentives for residential, commercial and small industrial classes. Generation backout rate is highest among IOU restructuring plans.