John S. Ferguson
In aiming to make financial statements more meaningful, will FASB instead make them indecipherable?
By mid-summer, a total of 123 companies had cranked out some 574 pages of comments, detailing exactly what they thought of the accounting rules proposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to cover the closure or removal of certain long-lived assets. %n1%n The FASB's"Exposure Draft," issued early last year, had requested comments on eight issues. The respondents answered as requested, but also raised a host of new questions.
Jeffrey P. Price
"Spark spread" sets value, but as prices diverge from system
lambda, merchant plant buyers will be flying blind.
Many power plants will be bought and sold in the next decade. Some utilities will divest power plants as required by regulators; others will sell for strategic reasons. Most of the plants sold likely will become merchant plants, with no guaranteed market for their electric output. Merchant plant activity is already significant and growing. The value of these plants will depend on how well they can perform in an uncertain market.
Phillip S. Cross
The New York Public Service Commission has directed Consolidated Edison Co. to modify its gas transportation rates to more accurately reflect costs.
The commission said that the tariff revisions mark a "major step" for a service territory where competition between the utility and gas marketers had not yet developed.
Phillip S. Cross
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld a ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requiring an interstate pipeline company to sell excess low-cost storage gas supplies to its sales customers at cost, on the theory that ratepayers who bear risk for losses in industry restructuring should retain gains from the same process.
The pipeline, Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co., had found that excess gas was available after it had cut sales operations as part of the market restructuring ordered by the FERC.
Sound bites from state and federal regulators.
Refusal to Wheel. Federal judge allows rural electric co-op to proceed with antitrust suit against PacifiCorp, ruling that doctrine of state action immunity does not insulate a regulated investor-owned electric utility from antitrust action for allegedly refusing to sell to sell power to others for resale to customers, or for allegedly refusing to wheel power generated by other suppliers.
Lori A. Burkhart
In two separate cases, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the first time has approved an analytical framework for examining vertical market power concerns raised by convergence mergers of gas and electric companies. This new framework applies when market power in one sector (such as natural gas) threatens competition in another (e.g., electricity).
In the first case, the FERC on June 25 conditionally approved the disposition of jurisdictional facilities in the proposed merger of two holding companies, Enova Corp.
Bay State Gas Co. has sold its 17.5-percent equity interest in the Masspower cogeneration plant to Energy Investors Fund Group. The sale price wasn't released; Bay State said it was more than book value. The 240-megawatt, gas-fired combined-cycle plant provides steam for Monsanto Co.
Bridgeport, Conn., is the planned site of a $260-million, 520-MW power plant. Duke Energy Power Services, United Illuminating Co. and Siemens Power Ventures signed a letter of intent to build the gas-fired, combined-cycle merchant plant.
Albert J. Budney, Jr.
Canadian markets beckon U.S. utilities, and vice versa, demanding greater access to transmission lines to bridge the gap.
When I took the job of president of Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., way up North, near the Canadian border, I shared the news with a close friend. I told him how excited I was to be joining an innovative team that was out in front, breaking new ground in the competitive arenas rapidly evolving in the electric power industry.
Lori A. Burkhart, and Phillip S. Cross
Putting aside calls for a faster-paced switch to the new industry format, the Michigan Public Service Commission has adopted a phase-in schedule for customer direct access to alternative electricity suppliers that runs through 2002. The order, which some have said needs additional work, also outlines stranded cost recovery policies and related securitization strategies.
Under the plan, 2.5 percent of each electric utility's retail load will become eligible for customer choice each year from 1997 through 2001, with all customers eligible in 2002.
MCN Investment Corp. and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. plan to build a $45-million liquified natural gas plant near the Delaware-Maryland border. The project, named Continental States Peaking Services L.L.C., would liquify, store and vaporize gas beginning in early 2000. It would connect to the Eastern Shore Natural Gas pipeline system, with access to the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line and Columbia Gas Transmission system.