Edison International elected former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher to its board and its utility company's board, Southern California Edison. Christopher was elected chair of the executive committees of both boards. Howard P. Allen retired as chair and CEO.
John T. Coughlin, former Wisconsin Public Service commissioner, was elected chair of the PJM Interconnection L.L.C.
Former U.S. Department of State Legal Adviser Conrad K. Harper was elected to the board of both Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., and Public Service Electric and Gas Co.
Lori A. Burkhart
Midwest and New England Are Threatened
To head off potential problems, states in the Midwest and New England are reacting now to impending plant shutdowns, which are threatening to cause serious electric supply shortfalls this summer.
The Midwest. The shutdown of Wisconsin's two nuclear plants, Kewaunee and Point Beach, is predicted to cause the state's worst power shortage. In addition, up to five coal-fired plants were scheduled for maintenance shutdowns. To deal with the anticipated shortage, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission on April 22 adopted an emergency plan.
Hossein Haeri, M. Sami Khawaja, and Matei Perussi
Do mergers and "critical mass" really make a difference? The answer, it seems, is yes.
To become more competitive, U.S. electric utilities have embarked on a quest in recent years to improve operational efficiency and factor productivity. The question is: Are utilities making progress? And, which companies have gained a competitive edge? Which have not?
Industry analysts have long argued that given the structure of the markets they serve and their cost-based, rate-setting procedures, electric utilities tend toward monopolistic behavior.
Lori A. Burkhart
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has said it will postpone a decision for two months on whether to approve the proposed merger of Northern States Power Co. and Wisconsin Energy Corp. to form "Primergy."
The PUC may not decide the matter until as late as August. A sunset clause kicks in just three months after that time, which would allow the utilities to back out of the deal.
Phillip S. Cross
In a series of rulings regarding Wisconsin Electric Power Co.,
the Wisconsin Public Service Commission has directed the
utility to reduce electric charges and natural gas service rates.
In a similar ruling, the commission also has authorized Wisconsin Public Service Corp. to boost rates for natural gas, while trimming rates for electric service.
Wisconsin Electric. The commission ordered Wisconsin Electric to cut electric rates by $7.383 million. Rate of return on common equity was set at 10.8 percent.
Lori A. Burkhart
Due to troubles at the Kewaunee nuclear power plant, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission has agreed to allow its three utility owners to accelerate depreciation based on a plant retirement in 2002 instead of 2013. It also agreed to shorten the length of time decommissioning funds can be set aside.
The plant had shut down Sept. 20, 1996, for routine repairs and was expected to open one month later when damage to steam generators was found to be greater than expected. Replacing them would cost about $100 million.
Dennis L. Haider succeeded the retiring R.J. White as president of Prairielands Energy Marketing, Inc. Haider moved over from v.p.-operations for the Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co., another unit of MDU Resources Group Inc. Prairielands became a subsidiary of Williston Basin when Haider took over as president.
In a related development, Ronald G. Skarphol, a special projects manager of Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., takes White's place as v.p.-marketing and business development. Montana-Dakota is another MDU division.
Peter R. Thomas was hired from Sprint as v.p. of American Electric Power's new communications subsidiary, AEP Communications, Inc.
Central Illinois Light Co. hired Todd Severson as human resources v.p. He comes from Remco, a subsidiary of Thorn Americas.
Scott A. Neitzel, a member of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission since January 1992, has resigned. Neitzel chaired the PSC's electric utility industry restructuring committee.
Ohio Edison Co.'s board of directors elected chairman and CEO Willard R. Holland as its chairman.
Phillip S. Cross
Finding an independent system operator (ISO) prerequisite to electric industry restructuring, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued a detailed set of "minimum standards" for developing and operating an ISO.
The PSC says that the ISO must function independently of generators and must operate the transmission system to protect consumers and sellers of power from anticompetitive use of the wires. In addition, the ultimate responsibility for safety and reliability must be vested in one entity at all times.
The Education/Electric Buying Group, which represents Long Island public schools, has asked the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to separately consider its proposal for a competitive electric pilot program. The program calls for electricity purchased at the best price, rather than just through the Long Island Lighting Co. The buying group claims that LILCO has refused requests to discuss the proposal. The school districts estimate they could save $20 million annually in electricity costs without substantially affecting LILCO's net earnings.