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Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 1995

This New Congress Means Business

W. Lynn Garner

After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness as a minority party, House Republicans are ready to slash and burn what they see as a bloated federal bureaucracy. The next two years will demonstrate just how powerful the legislative branch can be when both House and Senate are controlled by a strong-willed party on a mission. Electric industry officials seem optimistic, but cautious, about this Republican revolution.

Marketing & Competing

James R. Pierobon

Increasing competition in the electric power industry is likely to entail a little-recognized major complication (em greater difficulty in siting transmission lines. The stakes will often be greater, the opposition could be stronger, and both put a premium on finding a process that can win public acceptance cost-effectively.

Court Upholds NRC Dry Cask Storage Rule

Phillip S. Cross

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) decision approving the VSC-24 concrete cask for storing spent nuclear fuels. The generic approval of the technology permitted Consumers Power Co. to construct dry cask facilities at its Palisades nuclear project and begin loading spent fuel. The State of Michigan and owners of land near the Palisades plant claimed that the Atomic Energy Act required the NRC to hold hearings to consider site-specific issues.

Navigating the Hydro Market in Latin America

Carlos A. Yermoli

The governments of most Latin American countries have yet to establish clear policies about the future ownership of existing generation assets, but they do expect future capacity to be largely developed by the private sector. This has created friction in some countries between governments, which are eager to limit the role of the state in electric supply, and national utilities, which feel threatened and continue preparing traditional expansion plans.

FERC Favors Regional Solutions to Loop Flows

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has opened a paper hearing on electric loop flow issues arising from the unscheduled flow mitigation plan filed by the Western Systems Coordinating Council (WSCC) (Docket No. ER95-215-000). WSCC members have endured loop flow problems in their region for over 20 years. Expanding on previous ideas, the plan includes the coordinated operation of "controllable devices," such as phase-shifting transformers, that can reduce the level of unscheduled flow by altering power flows on parallel alternating current transfer paths.


Bruce W. Radford

This fight is for the heart and soul of regulation everywhere. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) won the first round on February 22, but I think there's more to come.

The fight involves incentives for nonutility generators (NUGs). It also touches on PURPA (em the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (em which guarantees a market to cogenerators or power producers (QFs) who qualify. But more important, this battle involves regulatory philosophy.

FERC Slams Tennessee Gas on Order 636

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has accepted and suspended tariff filings made by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. (TGP), ordering its staff to convene a technical conference on various issues related to TGP's post-restructuring compliance (Docket Nos. RP95-88-000 and RP95-112-000). The issues under investigation include capacity release, storage, and scheduling, as well as TGP's proposed $118-million rate increase. The FERC noted that TGP's customers "have expressed a high degree of dissatisfaction" with service from TGP. Commissioner James J.


Thomas L. Fisher, president of NICOR Inc., will become CEO at the company's annual meeting on May 3. He also is expected to become chairman in December, succeeding Richard G. Cline. Fisher, 50, joined NICOR's principal subsidiary, Northern Illinois Gas Co., in 1967, became president and CEO in 1988, and has served in a number of executive positions.

PECO Energy Co. president Corbin A. McNeill, Jr. will assume the additional position of CEO at the company's April 12 annual meeting. Joseph F.

Wisconsin "Comparable" Network Service Moves to FERC

Lori A. Burkhart

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has reviewed network transmission tariffs filed by Wisconsin Public Service Corp. (WPS) and Wisconsin Electric Power Co. (WEPCO) in compliance with a Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) order requiring a FERC tariff that provides network service comparable to the service the utilities reserve for themselves. The case arose out of applications filed at the PSC by four utilities in late 1990 and early 1991.

Gas May Find New Futures in Kansas

W. Lynn Garner

The Kansas City Board of Trade has asked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to approve a natural gas futures and options trading contract for a summer launch. The designated delivery point is the Permian/Waha Hub in West Texas, operated by Valero Transmission Co. Kansas City Board chairman Don Hills says the western gas futures contract is necessary because gas prices differ significantly across the country, due to seasonal weather extremes and the diverse origins of supply.