Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 1995

Flexibility: Key to Success When Outsourcing Information Technology

In the utility industry's brave new world of deregulation, information technology (IT) (em and, specifically, "outsourcing" (em has acquired an entirely new meaning.

IT has become strategic. And important. So important that utility companies are seeking outside expertise to help them leverage technology to conduct business more efficiently, help grow revenues, and hone their edge in the new competitive world. Time has become an unaffordable luxury.

FERC to Examine MAPP's Membership Rolls

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has set for hearing a request by Koch Gateway Pipeline Co. (KGP) to charge market-based rates for firm and interruptible natural gas transportation services (Docket No. RP95-362-000). First, however, the FERC must conclude Docket No. RM95-6-000, which will delineate the circumstances under which it may approve market-based rates.

Space Heating Discount Scrutinized

While approving a proposed rate discount program for new electric heating customers, the Maine Public Service Commission (PSC) has ruled that the program must meet "permanent load" requirements designed to protect ratepayers. Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. had filed proposals to market power to new electric heating customers at 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, as a temporary addition to its load requirements, with a price floor based on short-run marginal costs.

Cooperative Outsourcing: Securing Value from Information Technology

As competitive pressures push utilities to look for new ways to do business, outsourcing the information technology (IT) function becomes increasingly attractive. By contracting for outside IT services, utilities can reduce costs and increase efficiency.

The decision to outsource, however, now goes beyond cost-cutting considerations. Companies are just as likely to turn to outsourcing when they want to concentrate on new business opportunities or dramatically change their overall structure.

Coalition Demands Congressional Action

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) plans to investigate the membership requirements set by the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool (MAPP), especially as they pertain to power marketers (Docket Nos. ER94-1529-001 and 002, and EL95-77-000).

The FERC found last December that certain MAPP membership criteria are framed in terms of traditional utility attributes (em e.g., ownership of generation and transmission facilities, interconnected operation, system load and related reserve obligations (em that entities such as power marketers do not possess.

LDC Shifts Stranded Demand Costs

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has authorized Northern Minnesota Utilities, a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), to insulate shareholders from the effects of losing a large firm sales customer by reallocating associated demand costs among remaining firm customer classes. It allowed the LDC to pass the increased costs through its purchased adjustment clause, finding that the utility was now alerted to the problem and had taken action to protect itself and its ratepayers from stranded costs caused by customers switching to interruptible transport service.

Electric Restructuring: An Urgent Proposal

Technological advances in electric generation and telecommunications make utility competition both possible and inevitable. These economic forces will eventually break down the regulatory structure of the electric industry. However, public policy should play a crucial role in molding and nurturing competition.In recent months, regulators in a majority of the states have opened proceedings to study electric competition.

Off Peak

Companies: BRAZ (Brazos Electric Cooperative); COA (City of Austin); CPL (Central Power & Light); CPS (Central Public Service); GSU (Gulf States Utilities); HLP (Houston Lighting & Power); LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority); SPS (Southwestern Public Service); SWEP (Southwestern Electric Power); TNP (Texas New Mexico Power); TU (Texas Utilities Electric); WTU (West Texas Utilities).Assumptions: Statewide economic dispatch, where all utilities receive the market-clearing marginal energy cost for their generation (similar to studies that Moody's Investors Service has


Suppose you want to reduce emissions

of carbon dioxide to lessen the chance

of global warming. Should you (a) prohibit coal burning in electric power plants, (b) encourage coal use for power generation, or (c) force electric generators to pay an "externality" surcharge to reflect the cost of CO2 emissions?Here's another one. You are an independent power producer.