Fortnightly Magazine - April 15 1996

C&SW Sub First to File Under Telecom Act

CSW Communications, Inc., a subsidiary of Central and South West Corp., has become the first company to file at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to become an "exempt telecommunications company" under the telecommunications reform legislation signed into law by President Clinton. Previously, CSW was barred from entering the telecommunications market by the Public Utility Holding Company Act.

Mailbag

Forecasts Send ROEs Wide of the Mark

In a recent "Offpeak" ("Forecasting is Just That," Jan. 1, 1996, p. 54), David Foti and Clay Denton report data showing the percentage of error found in various seven-year forecasts of natural gas prices (1988-94) produced by the American Gas Association (A.G.A.), Energy Information Administration (EIA), DRI/McGraw-Hill (DRI), Gas Research Institute, and WEFA Group. These errors ranged from approximately 50 to 95 percent.

Courts May Interpret Transmission Rights

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has declined jurisdiction in a dispute between Montana Power Co. and Puget Sound Power & Light Co. over a firm purchased-power contract and the seller's obligation to exert "best efforts" to secure necessary firm contractual rights to transmission service to complete the firm power transaction. The FERC prefers that the matter be heard in the federal district court in Montana, where related litigation is already pending.

Trends

Curbing Market Power:

The Larger, the Better

In recent years, increased competition and the threat of deregulation have spurred numerous mergers and acquisitions. Fourteen mergers have been completed by investor-owned utilities (IOUs) over the last five years; seven more have been announced. If all of these mergers receive approval, nearly 20 percent of the IOUs that existed in 1990 will no longer exist.

Niagara Mohawk Fights Gas Import Tax

Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. (NiMo) has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to rule that a New York state law violates the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) by requiring ratepayers, in effect, to reimburse gas-fired QFs (qualifying facilities) for payments made under a state-imposed, 4.25-percent natural gas import tax.

NiMo says that the tax and the reimbursement mandate will add $7.2 million to the electric bills of its customers in 1996 (em a figure that could climb to $13.5 million by 2006.

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