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Nuclear

News Digest

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.

News Digest

Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Beth Lewis

Federal Agencies

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.

All Nuclear Power Plants Are Not Created Equal

Jay Maidment and Geoffrey Rothwell

April 01, 1998

WHICH NUCLEAR PLANTS WILL SURVIVE competition? To answer that question, senior managers at electric utilities must know a nuclear plant's true economic potential. Without an accurate understanding of operating economics, a utility might lose a good plant or waste resources on poorer plants that should be closed.

Of course, a shutdown may be appropriate at some plants (em perhaps a few situated in the most competitive regions, or others plagued by poor inherent physical characteristics. However, most U.S.

Evaluating Power Plant Property Taxes Under Deregulation

Steven P. Schneider

THREE FACTORS (em RESTRUCTURING, TECHNOLOGY AND environmental controls (em now create both reason and opportunity for electric utilities to lower their property taxes, which often make up a substantial cost of doing business.

Property tax valuation is fairly straightforward. Most states compute property taxes on fair market value, or what a hypothetical buyer and seller would agree the property is worth, with both parties having knowledge of the relevant facts and neither compelled to buy or sell.

Utilities Earn an A+ for Power Plant Auctions

Joseph F. Schuler Jr.

THE POWER PLANTS OF AT LEAST FIVE UTILITIES IN NEW England and California get swapped this year for more than $5.3 billion. And happily, those holding bonds on the plants will be given cash for their coupons.

These utilities (see sidebar, "Going Once, Going Twice¼ Sold!") can expect their credit ratings to remain firm or even jump (em although that's debated by analysts. Such improved ratings may surprise market observers led to believe that loss of utility collateral would hurt investment grades.

News Digest

Federal Agencies

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.

Electric Futures.

News Digest

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.

People

COMED appointed S. Gary Snodgrass as vice president of human resources for ComEd and its parent company, Unicom Corp.

The board of directors of Bay State Gas Co. elected Debra P. Cornish vice president of culture development. Previously, Cornish held positions as manager, compensation and employee relations, cost analyst and external reporting analyst.

MCN Investment Corp. promoted Joseph L. Roberts Jr. to president from vice president of MCNIC Pipeline & Processing Co. Roberts was also elected to the MCNIC board of directors. He remains vice president of MCNIC Power Co.

Inside Washington

Lori A. Burkhart

USE OF U.S. ECONOMY UPHELD FOR EQUITY CALCULATIONS

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in seven rate cases involving interstate natural gas pipelines, has upheld a new policy on the appropriate long-term growth rate to be used in computing their return on equity. Five of the pipelines contested FERC's new policy, as announced in Opinion 396-b.

The Commission defended the rate-setting method, but decided to allow the pipelines a chance to prove why the rules should not apply to them. The contesting pipelines are: Trailblazer Pipeline Co. (Docket No.

Headlines

Lori A. Burkhart

PITTSBURGH CHALLENGES MERGER; ALLEGES COLLUSION

The city of Pittsburgh has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Allegheny Power Systems Inc., and Duquesne Light Co., to stop the merger proposed by the two companies.

In its Sept. 29 court filing, Pittsburgh claimed the two utilities acted jointly to restrain trade. The city said the companies did this by agreeing to maintain higher rates for electric retail service at two industrial sites targeted for redevelopment zones pending their merger.

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