Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1996

AEP Consolidates Nuclear Employees

American Electric Power Co. (AEP) plans to consolidate its Columbus, OH, nuclear generation management and support staff with the nuclear staff at its Donald C. Cook plant in Bridgman, MI. The relocation, scheduled for summer 1996, affects about 250 employees. About 50 positions

will be cut. Total employees in the AEP nuclear

organization will be reduced from about 1,300 to about 1,180, a 9.2-percent cut.


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Moody's Finds CINergy Well Positioned

Moody's Investors Service has upgraded the credit ratings of PSI Energy Co. (PSI), Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. (CGE), and Union Light Heat & Power Co. The upgrades (em which affect about $3.8 billion in debt securities (em reflect strengthening financial position coupled with low business risks.

Perspective

There are essentially two kinds of reliability: sufficient generating capacity, and sufficient transmission capacity. Although it often receives the most attention, generation accounts for only about 10 percent of reliability concerns. Even when there is a problem, there is usually time to prepare; demand can be reduced through voltage reductions, interruptible customers, public appeals, and as a last resort, rotating blackouts.

Just in Time: EDI for Gas Nominations

To listen to some, EDI stands for "Everybody's Doing It." But there's more to it than that. The natural gas market is not simply about electronic bulletin boards (EBBs) or electronic data interchange (EDI), which reconciles potentially inconsistent data, protocols, and trading customs among pipelines, shippers, distributors, and end users. Instead, it should be about solutions (em solutions that work across regions, across enterprises.

EDI is tough.

Financial News

Recovery of stranded investment is clearly the central point of contention in the debate over utility competition. Customers oppose competition and utilities favor it (em for what appear to be clear-cut reasons. Recovery would delay the benefits of competition for customers, but would give utilities additional cash and temporary protection against competitive price pressures. The battle has unfortunately turned into a morality play that centers on the right to recover stranded investment.

Price Risk Management: Electric Power vs. Natural Gas

The deregulated power market will feature large numbers of buyers and sellers. Buyers will worry that prices will rise unexpectedly above current levels; sellers will worry that prices will fall unexpectedly. Some will be interested in fixed-price forward deals that protect them from these risks.

Evolving FERC Merger Policy Delays "Altus" Deal

It appears that The Washington Water Power Co. (WWP) and Sierra Pacific Power Co. (SPP), which were hoping for a quick OK on their proposed merger to form "Altus," may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of a perfunctory approval, the WWP/SPP merger now may become the test case for evolving merger policy at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Perhaps the utilities should have seen it coming. In approving the Midwest Power Systems, Inc./Iowa-Illinois Gas & Electric Co. merger, FERC Commissioners William L.

Saying "No" to Municipalization

On November 7, 1995, voters in Aberdeen, NJ, went to the polls to elect local and state officials. Also on the ballot were public questions (em including one asking Aberdeen residents whether the township should build or acquire electric transmission and distribution facilities. Eighty-six percent of the voters nixed the idea. What follows is a case study of how the issue got on the ballot and how the local utility defeated the effort. The story reveals what it takes to defeat a municipalization drive: support from municipal government, the public, and your union.

The Superiority of Spot Yields in Estimating Cost of Capital

Financial experts often depart from standard financial principles and practices in recommending the appropriate rate of return for public utilities. But ratemaking draws from many fields, not just finance; there may be good reasons for some alterations. In other cases, however, analysts are unaware of violating principles. This article discusses the tendency of some analysts to use historic averages of certain financial variables, as opposed to current spot values, in

return-on-equity (ROE) analyses.

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