Lori A. Burkhart
A Contentious Bill Passes Senate (em Two Votes Shy of Blocking a Veto
Recently passed by the U.S. Senate, nuclear waste bill S. 104 lies mired in quicksand, facing a promised presidential veto, not to mention attacks from senators representing those states targeted for possible waste storage sites. Disposal of waste from the nation's nuclear generating plants has turned into possibly the most contentious issue on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Frank H.
S&Ls won damages when the feds reneged on promises. Utilities could do the same.
It's tough to be a utility CFO these days. For decades, electric utilities have served both as target and conscripted agent of government policy. Utilities pay disproportionately high taxes. Utility rate structures further distort market forces with subsidies flowing from business to residential. These policies actually defeat market forces. To large measure, many of these market failures arise from reconciling the hangover from uneconomic policy initiatives.
Lori A. Burkhart
New England Electric System has received preliminary proposals from 25 potential buyers for the purchase of its generation business.
The proposals, which were due March 25, are from utility affiliates, independent power producers, and energy companies.
New England Electric System noted that buyers would gain an immediate presence in the regional energy market, which opens to competition in mid-1997 for some Rhode Island customers, and in January 1998 for Massachusetts and New Hampshire customers.
Phillip S. Cross
Motivated by numerous consumer complaints regarding substantial, unexpected increases in bills for natural gas service, the New Mexico Public Utility Commission has fined Public Service Company of New Mexico, finding that the utility knowingly understated gas cost data in prior adjustment clause filings to avoid commission review of an ongoing gas price crisis.
The commission suspended the $2.2-million fine, however, in light of its decision to prevent PSNM from collecting more than $1.5 million in purchased gas revenues associated with the understated gas cost projection.
Bruce W. Radford
If Jane Austen were writing this column, she would begin something like this: "It is a truth university acknowledged, that a natural gas distributor in possession of a good franchise must be in want of an electric utility to merge with."
That's the rule of electric/gas convergence. But as an editor, my instinct when I uncover such a "rule" tell me to look for a reason why it ain't so. That's why I got such a kick from a recent conversation with Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York State Assembly.
Sound bites from state and federal regulators.
Gas Supply Affiliates. Arkansas oks plan by Arkla to continue to rely on NorAm Gas Transmission Co. (an affiliate) for the bulk of its supply requirements, but directs the utility to evaluate its supply options and to "be prepared" to shift to an independent supplier for gas inventory and capacity. NorAm agreed to "rachet-down" its price to meet third-party offers. Docket No. 95-401-U, Order No. 34, Jan. 9, 1997 (Ark.P.S.C.).
Electronic Billing. Michigan regulators approve program by Consumers Power Co.
George R. Hall, and Richard J. Pierce, Jr.
New legislation would tackle the most difficult problem (em low load factors for small-volume customers.
We commend the Natural Gas Competition and Deregulation Act, SB 215, passed by the Georgia General Assembly in March. (Governor Zell Miller was expected to sign the bill in April.) The Georgia legislation envisions a new framework for regulating the retail gas market.
Phillip S. Cross
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has approved a proposal by Jersey Central Power and Light Co., an electric utility, to meet its short-to-medium-term power needs by purchasing power from utility-owned generating facilities located in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Under the agreement, the utility will purchase a total of 700 megawatts of power over an eight-year period from Pennsylvania Power and Light Co., Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. and Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.
Phillip S. Cross
The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling by state regulators denying permission to Indiana Gas Co. to recover costs associated with the cleanup of environmental contamination at former gas manufacturing sites.
The court could find no direct connection between coal tar cleanup and the current provision of gas distribution service, which it described as a necessary condition for cost recovery, even if the property is currently in use by the utility.
Vinod K. Dar
s The technology is digital.
s The medium is cyberspace. The product is a strategic system for billing, collection and customer services (BCCS) that integrates knowledge and choice through an automated customer interface.
The impending obliteration of the business boundaries between the gas, electric and other energy industries will launch a series of convergent waves of change. Executives, regulators, legislators, investors and, naturally, consumers must ride this wave over the next 10 to 15 years.