Mergers & Acquisitions
CP&L + Florida Progress. Carolina Power & Light announced Aug. 23 that it would purchase Florida Progress Corp. for $5.3 billion in a combination that would create the nation's ninth-largest utility in terms of generating capacity, with $6.7 billion in annual revenues and 2.5 million customers in three states. CP&L would pay a premium (between 16.5 percent and 21 percent) over the pre-announcement share price of FP stock.
Gas Capacity Rights. The New York PSC told retail suppliers that to serve firm retail gas load they must have rights to firm, non-recallable, primary delivery point pipeline capacity for the five winter months, November through March, or else must augment secondary capacity with a standby charge payable to local distribution companies holding primary rights.
News Digest was compiled by Carl J. Levesque, editorial assistant, Lori A. Burkhart, contributing legal editor, and Bruce W. Radford, editor. For continual news updates, see www.pur.com.Nuclear Power
Transmission & ISOs
Transco Independence. Granting Entergy's request for a declaratory order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled in a case of first impression that a stand-alone transmission company ("transco") would meet the test in Order 888 for independent system operators despite passive ownership by a power producer or other market participant.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Carl J. Levesque
Studies and Reports
Natural Gas Retail Choice. Utility affiliates hold large market shares in natural gas customer choice programs, raising questions about the extent of true competition, according to a study released on Dec. 15 by the U.S. General Accounting Office. Participation varies by region, however, according to the report, "Energy Deregulation - Status of Natural Gas Customer Choice Programs."
In Pennsylvania, for example, three out of four programs showed very high shares for utility affiliates. The Equitable Gas Co.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
Electric Retail Choice. The Arkansas Public Service Commission has issued its final report on electric restructuring, citing a "broad" consensus favoring competition. It predicts immediate benefits for industrial customers, but warns that residential users likely will not see any quick rate cut. The PSC saw competition as consistent with action in neighboring states:
• Oklahoma. State law mandates retail choice by July 1, 2002.
• Mississippi. PSC plan would phase-in competition from 2001 to 2004.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
MICHIGAN CHOICE APPEAL. Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley filed an appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals of the Michigan PSC's Jan. 14 rehearing order (News Digest, March 15, 1998, p. 18) adopting a phase-in schedule for electric restructuring and retail choice for Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison. Kelley alleged that the order fails to create a competitive generation market or foster lower rates. He called it an "outrage," that gave the utilities everything they wanted. Case Nos. u-11290 et al., Feb. 13, 1998 (Mich.P.S.C.).
NEW HAMPSHIRE RESTRUCTURING. The U.S.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Beth Lewis
CONSUMER FRAUD. The National Association of Attorneys
General, meeting Nov. 18 in Washington, D.C., to discuss electric restructuring, issued a warning to electric consumers on fraudulent schemes and abusive practices by scam artists. The warning encourages consumers to check their electric bills for unusual provider names or charges, and to avoid participating in contests that require a signature that can be used to switch an account.
RATE REDUCTION BONDS.
Lori A. Burkhart
The governors of Maine and Montana (em two states with very different electricity markets (em have signed three bills into law to allow competition in the electric and natural gas industries in their respective jurisdictions.
Maine. Gov. Angus King signed an electric restructuring bill that mandates competition in the state starting March 1, 2000.
The Maine law, An Act to Restructure the State's Electric Industry, L.D. 1804, was signed on May 29. It allows for recovery of stranded costs as determined by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Douglas W. Hawes
On a purely intellectual level, it is difficult to justify the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA). Sixty years after passage, PUHCA has become an anachronism (em a fact well articulated in comments filed in response to the Concept Release on the modernization of the Act issued last November by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).1 More recently, the SEC's Division of Investment Management actually recommended a conditional repeal (see sidebar).
Phillip S. Cross
We begin the new year with a recap of the major rulings issued last year by state public utility commissions (PUCs).
Electricity took center stage as state commissioners began in earnest to examine rising competition in the power generation market. The seemingly endless number of privately sponsored seminars, conferences, and reports on the issue might suggest that regulators are following rather than leading on policy.