James R. Pierobon
EPA inventory opens generators to scrutiny, especially if they burn coal.
Hazardous emissions are one thing. Damaging publicity is something else-especially in the point-and-click world of Internet access.
In the coming year, the fuels that utilities choose to generate electricity will fall under a stronger media microscope. That's when coal- and oil-fired electricity generators must begin reporting information about their accumulated releases of toxic chemicals for 1998.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Beth Lewis
ISO GUIDELINES. Marking a contrast with California, but lining up with states in the Northeast, the Iowa Utilities Board has urged that independent system operators should have authority to order redispatch to help fulfill service requirements for electric transmission. That rule came as part of a set of principles issued by the board to guide the formation of ISOs in managing electric transmission systems and preventing the exercise of market power.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
TELEPHONE BILLING PRACTICES. Citing the filed-rate doctrine, which bars deviation from published tariffs, a federal appeals court affirmed the dismissal of two class action suits against AT&T Corp. that sought damages for alleged fraud. The suite arose from AT&T's failure to disclose to its residential long-distance telecommunications customers its practice of rounding charges up to the higher full minute.
Bruce W. Radford
EARLIER IN THIS DECADE, FERC CHAIRMAN MARTIN ALLDAY delivered his famous quote: "Everybody is somebody's native load customer."
Today, that truism has fallen under attack. It could go out the window if power marketers get their wish. One group of marketers has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to open a new rulemaking on electric system reliability. This group proposes to end the notion of transmission responding to load.
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.
S. Lawrence Paulson
A talk with two LDCs. First, PSE&G appears content to cede sales to marketers, Second, NW Natural intends not to give in just yet.
This much is clear: Energy utilities are headed for an unbundled future.
As states from both sides of the country implement residential and commercial natural gas unbundling, require residential choice pilot programs and grapple with electric industry restructuring, competition shows no signs of slowing. To boot, some members of Congress seem eager to give competition a national push.
Bruce W. Radford
My electric company, Potomac Electric Power Co., has announced a joint venture with RCN Corp. of Princeton, N.J., to offer local and long-distance telephone service to callers in Washington, D.C., and nearby areas, plus cable television and high-speed connections to the Internet. With stockholder money, PEPCO would compete head-on against Bell Atlantic, which won approval from the Federal Communications Commission on Aug. 14 for its $25-billion merger with NYNEX.
Reporting the story, The Washington Post quoted PEPCO President John M.
Leonard M. Fuld, and Diane Borska
Identifying a core competency is not as easy as it seems.
Utilities have developed a "Gold Rush" mentality. That is, they have begun to chase after the latest (em and sometimes fleeting (em opportunities, often abandoning their roots and their long-held strengths in the process. Supposedly, this first-in-market race will allow traditional utilities to remain competitive. Yet, all this racing has caused strong regional players to enter markets blindly, without the competitive knowledge or strategic underpinnings that will allow them to succeed in the long term.
Phillip S. Cross
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has rejected a request by a trade group representing heating, cooling, and appliance repair and installation vendors to direct Public Service Electric and Gas Co.
Lori A. Burkhart
Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) has asked the New Jersey BPU to approve a pilot program, SelectGas, that would allow residential natural gas customers in four municipalities to purchase gas from suppliers other than PSE&G. The pilot would run until June 1, 1998. PSE&G's commercial and industrial customers have had choice since December 1994; over 8,000 now participate.
The new service would not require an alternate fuel capability or additional metering, and includes provisions for emergency sales service and offpeak service.