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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lori A. Burkhart
Hydroelectric power generation by U.S. electric utilities increased 12 percent between 1995 and 1996, according to the latest publication by the DOE's Energy Information Administration. Hydro generation contrasted with output at gas-fired units. That dropped 15 percent to 263 billion kilowatt-hours (em the lowest level since 1993 (em partly due to a substantial increase in gas prices.
According to Electric Power Annual 1996 Volume 1, the average cost of gas delivered to electric utilities on a dollars-per-million-Btu basis was $2.64 in 1996, the highest since 1985.
Robert G. Rosenberg
G+T+D=? Why the sum of the future parts is greater than the present whole.
GENCO, TRANSCO, DISCO. IF THAT IS the future, then rates collected formerly by the integrated electric company (em with its generation, transmission and distribution functions (em will have to be determined again for each segment. One aspect of these rates (em the cost of capital (em has generated significant controversy.
Lori A. Burkhart
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a final policy statement on its intended approach to nuclear plant licensees as the electric industry moves toward greater competition.
While the NRC has concluded that its regulations can address future changes, it is considering revising its financial and assurance requirements for decommissioning funds.
The board of the California ISO selected Jeffrey D. Tranen as its first CEO. Tranen is former president of the New England Power Co., senior v.p. of the New England Electric System and chair of NEPOOL. The ISO starts operation Jan. 1, 1998.
Charles F. Gay, Ph.D., former director of the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, was hired as president and CEO of ASE Americas Inc. Klaus Albrecht, former president and CEO, will serve on ASE's board and as senior v.p.-business development.