Fortnightly Magazine - January 15 1995


A competitive market for electric power raises the point that some utility investments might be overvalued, giving rise to "stranded investment." Nevertheless, actual utility exposure to stranded investment may prove less severe than reported, according to a recent study we conducted at Resource Data International, Inc. (RDI), Retail Power Markets in the U.S., (em perhaps the first detailed analysis of stranded investment from generating assets, performed on a unit-by-unit basis for all power plants in the United States.

Court Rejects EPA's Nox Plan

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has vacated the Clean Air Act (CAA) compliance rules for reducing NOx emissions from coal-burning electric facilities (Alabama Power Co. v. EPA, No. 94-1170, 94-1329, Nov. 29, 1994). The ruling suspends any obligation to comply with the NOx standards pending further rulemaking by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Michigan Orders Release of Info on Electric Competition

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) will require Energy Michigan (em a nonprofit corporation whose members promote expanded use of cogeneration, IPPs, and waste-to-energy projects (em to provide Consumers Power Co. with information concerning the extent of existing and proposed self-generation projects that pose a competitive threat. The PSC directed Energy Michigan to answer interrogatories served by Consumers after Energy Michigan intervened in a proceeding concerning a new "competitive tariff" proposed by the utility.

PG&E, Destec Enter Transmission Agreement

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) and Destec Energy Inc. have entered into the nation's first comprehensive transmission and services agreement between a utility and a power marketer. The deal will allow Destec's power marketing subsidiary, Destec Power Services Inc. (DPS), to pool electricity and wholesale it directly using PG&E's transmission lines. A request for plan approval was filed at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on December 6.

FERC Denies Market Rates for Kentucky

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has denied a request by Kentucky Utilities Co. (KU) to charge market-based rates for bulk-power sales. In a related action, the FERC called for a public hearing on KU's accompanying transmission tariff, which would establish point-to-point rather than network service.

California to Reconsider PBOP Rulings

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has reaffirmed an earlier ruling permitting telecommunications utilities subject to price-cap regulation to use accrual accounting for post-retirement benefits other than pensions (PBOPs) under SFAS 106. It also warned that it may change its existing policy, which allows recovery of the costs of the accounting change as an exogenous cost under the price-cap form of regulation. The CPUC explained that "strong arguments can be made" that PBOP costs are within the utilities' control and simply normal costs of doing business.

PSE&G Customers Can Shop Around for Gas

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has approved a plan that will allow Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) to offer new transportation services to its commercial and industrial (C/I) natural gas customers. As a result of the BPU action, PSE&G will begin offering third-party gas transportation and other services to C/I customers regardless of size, amount of gas used, or alternate fuel capabilities. These customers may purchase gas directly from producers and marketers and arrange for PSE&G to transport and deliver the gas.


I am under siege. To be more precise, my company and American corporations in general are under siege. In popular media today, corporations are consistently treated as suspect at best (em and demonized at worst. If you switch off your critical faculties when you watch television or go to the movies, you're probably convinced that corporate America is out to destroy this country. In 1964, while campaigning for Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan framed the issue perfectly.

Indiana Authorizes Order 636 Transition Cost Recovery

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (URC) has authorized Northern Indiana Public Service Co. to recover its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order 636 pipeline transition charges under a rate design proposal that divides the charges between sales and transportation customers. Under the approved recovery plan, the gas local distribution company (LDC) will pass to all ratepayers on a volumetric basis those transition charges related to gas supply realignment and stranded investment.

World's Largest Geothermal is Formed

After much contention, California Energy Co. Inc. and Magma Power Co., both geothermal energy producers, have signed a merger agreement that will give Magma

stockholders $39 a share, or about $950 million in aggregate value. The agreement has been approved by both boards of directors. California Energy's tender offer included shares representing a majority of the voting power of Magma as well as funding of financing. The merger is also conditioned on the approval of California Energy's shareholders.