Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 1995


For a good half a century, electric regulation has meant law, accounting, and economics. But no more. Now it's all about computers, telecommunications, and file-transfer protocols. Forget about CWIP, AFUDC, double leverage, and interest synchronization. They are all irrelevant.

LDC Must Shoulder Coal Tar Clean-up Costs

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (URC) has denied an Indiana Gas Co., Inc. request for rate recovery of environmental costs associated with three of its instate manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites. The URC found that the local distribution company (LDC) had assumed the associated environmental liability in purchasing the properties, and that the costs were not related to providing gas service to current ratepayers.


United Water has named Robert A. Gerber, Jr. v.p. of corporate law for United Water Management & Services, a subsidiary.

AstroPower, Inc., a semi-conductor company specializing in photovoltaic energy conversion and optoelectric technology, has appointed Dr. George W. Roland v.p. and g.m. of its solar power business.

Eldon A. Cotton, assistant g.m.-power for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, was named president of the American Public Power Association.

Michigan Affirms Electric Discount Rates

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has reaffirmed its earlier approval of special manufacturing contracts submitted by Detroit Edison Co. to supply power to Chrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Corp. Opponents had argued that the PSC erred by approving the price discounts while deferring consideration of their rate treatment as well as their effect on existing competitive programs.


Who's Tripping?

It requires a truly acrobatic stretch of the imagination to reach the same conclusions as Pennsylvania Commissioner John Hanger in his article, "Electric Reliability: How PJM Tripped on Gas-Fired Power Plants" (May l, 1995). The truth is that the natural gas system performed efficiently and reliably in January 1994, exactly as planned. The operators of the power plants in question purchased interruptible gas-transportation contracts to keep their fuel costs low.

Wash. Approves DSM Financing Plan

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), in a case of first impression, has approved a request by Puget Sound Power & Light Co. to finance the full amount of its unamortized conservation investment through a new Conservation Asset Transaction and a Pooling Service Agreement. Estimated savings to the company associated with the financing arrangement total $22.7 million, with $19.9 million passed through to ratepayers and the rest allocated to the benefit of shareholders.

New Coalition Supports Fessler Proposal

A new coalition of 82 varied organizations (em including businesses, consumers, environmentalists, and utilities (em has announced support for the California Public Utility Commission's (CPUC's) majority proposal to restructure the electric industry.

D.C. Court Reviews DSM Rate Treatment

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has upheld parts of a decision by the District of Columbia Public Service Commission (PSC) disallowing 25 percent of actual and projected

demand-side management (DSM) costs claimed by Potomac Electric Power Co. in a recent rate case. While agreeing that Potomac had failed to justify 100-percent recovery of its DSM costs, the court remanded the case to the PSC for a better explanation of why 25 percent represents an appropriate amount for the disallowance.

Beleaguered Columbia Gas Settles, Waits

The Columbia Gas System, Inc. (CGS) has reached an agreement, in principle, resolving the class action lawsuits alleging securities law violations following CGS's June 1991 major charge against earnings and the suspension of its common stock dividend. Those lawsuits were filed against CGS, certain officers and directors, the company's independent public accountants, and the underwriters for the company's 1990 common stock offering. The CGS portion of the proposed $36.5-million settlement would be $16.5 million. The remainder would be shared among the other defendants.

Canadian Regulators Move to Unbundle Gas Rates

After reviewing gas supply and related matters as part of a general rate case for Centra Gas Ontario, Inc., the Ontario Energy Board has directed its technical staff to develop a mechanism to separate the utility's commodity sales from its transportation and distribution functions. The Board said the move was necessary because competition in the sale of natural gas and the introduction of indexed pricing had made regulation of the utility's existing tariffed services difficult.