Fortnightly Magazine - May 15 1996

New York First With Full Local Gas Competition

The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) on March 14 approved utility restructuring plans aimed at opening up the local natural gas markets to competition. Residential, small business, and commercial/industrial gas users now may purchase their gas supplies from a variety of sources, just as larger industrial customers may purchase from sources other than the local utility (Docket No.

Resource Plan Finds Shareholders Funding Low-income Programs

The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a plan by which shareholders of Providence Gas Co., a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), will fund existing low-income assistance programs. The PUC approved the plan as part of settlement agreement in a case involving a new integrated resource plan (IRP) for the LDC.

Funds for the low-income assistance programs will come from gas-cost savings earned by the LDC under new performance-based IRP reforms approved by the PUC.

Michigan Approves Foreign Investment Plan

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a request for certification of plans by CMS Generation Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of CMS Energy Co., to acquire an interest in an electric power supplier in Australia, as part of that country's privatization program.

According to CMS Generation, the project will remain a "totally separate entity" from the corporate parent and its principal subsidiary, Consumers Power Co.

Penn Power Asks for 10-Year Rate Plan

Pennsylvania Power Co. (PP) has asked the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve a 10-year "Rate Stability and Economic Development Plan," which includes a freeze on electric rates until May 1, 2006; enhanced customer assistance programs; rate incentives; and reduction of fixed costs and regulatory assets.

Rates would not be affected by future PP decisions on new generating capacity, removing or retiring generating facilities from service, or bulk-power purchases.

Nova Scotia Continues IRP, Favors Electric TOD Rates

The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has directed Nova Scotia Power Inc., an electric utility, to design and submit time-of-day (TOD) rates based on energy costs for all classes of customers except residential users. At the same time it denied a call for less emphasis on resource planning, and disallowed half the costs incurred for an executive compensation incentive program.

The Board rejected a proposal by the utility to redesign rates to reflect time of use by implementing seasonal rates, using on-peak demand levels for billing purposes.

U S WEST Problems May End Alternative Regulation

The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has begun formal action against U S WEST Communications, Inc., alleging noncompliance with service-quality standards. The PUC will decide whether to continue, modify, or terminate its regulatory agreement with that company. Staff have recommended that the PUC terminate alternative regulation for U S WEST.

PUC staff first found the company out of compliance with standards in 1994. Although the situation stabilized for a few months, network performance has deteriorated.

Maine Tightens Ex Parte Rules

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved amendments to existing rules governing ex parte and other communications designed to influence the decisionmaking process in adjudicatory proceedings.

It found the changes necessary after representatives of New England Telephone and Telegraph Co. dba NYNEX, a local exchange carrier (LEC) regulated by the PUC, were reported engaged in lobbying activities.

Moody's: Duke Stock Repurchase Stable

Moody's Investors Service has confirmed the credit ratings of Duke Power Co. (DP) despite the utility's decision to repurchase up to $1 billion in stock by 2000. Moody's expects DP to maintain its 'Aa2' senior secured bond rating. DP management intends to repurchase the stock while allowing a gradual increase in the retained earnings cushion. The program was designed to absorb the substantial cash inflow caused by the reversal of the Catawba power plant purchased-capacity levelization in 1996 and by the utility's declining capital expenditure needs.

Off Peak

Can DSM live with

competition?

Between 1992 and 1994, demand-side management (DSM) spending grew at a median annual rate of 16 percent for a survey group of 37 electric utilities (those reporting DSM expenditures of at least $5 million for 1993). For 1994-98, however, the same utilities project a median annual decline of 3 percent in their DSM expenditures. (Taken together, the 37 utilities - located primarily along the east and west coasts and in the industrial Midwest - accounted for 51.9 percent of all DSM expenditures for U.S.

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