Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 1996


The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) plans to take its first-ever private company partner to convert the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant. The two-unit plant, near Hollywood, AL, will likely be finished as a gas-fired facility. The decision not to complete the units as nuclear plants ended a 28-year policy of nuclear construction at TVA.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. began operating its $411-million, 385-Mw Orangeburg County plant January 15.

Pending the approval of state regulators, Puget Sound Power & Light Co. and Washington Energy Co.

Vermont Questions Telco, Competition, Network Investment

In approving a stipulated rate increase of $7.5 million for NYNEX for local exchange telephone service, the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) nevertheless has cited several unanswered issues, including: 1) stranded investment in copper-loop facilities, 2) expenses for corporate restructuring and downsizing, and

3) improvements to network infrastructure in the state.

The PSB added that NYNEX had failed to take advantage of falling local-exchange access charges

(a primary reason for the current hike in local service rates) to cut its long-distance calling rates

LILCO Opens Gas to Competition

The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a plan, "NaturalChoice," allowing customers of Long Island Lighting Co. (LILCO) to purchase natural gas from a qualified supplier of their choice. LILCO is the first company in New York, and one of the first in the nation, to open its gas system to competition.

LILCO's commercial, industrial, and residential gas customers may now choose to purchase gas directly from brokers or to continue purchasing from LILCO.

Court Favors Rate Impact Test for DSM

The Florida Supreme Court has upheld a decision by the state commission (PSC) to test the cost-effectiveness of demand-side management (DSM) programs for the state's four largest investor-owned electric utilities by measuring the impact of the programs on rates for all consumers, whether or not they participate in DSM programs.

It held the Rate Impact Measure (RIM) test consistent with state law directives to avoid discrimination between rate classes for DSM initiatives (em more so than the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test used alone.

Municipals to Pool

The Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA) and the Public Utilities Board (PUB) of the City of Brownsville, TX, have announced their intent to form a municipal power pool spanning four states. OMPA is a full and partial requirements wholesale supplier to 35 municipal electric systems in Oklahoma. PUB owns coal- and gas-fired generation plants. The two entities offer a combined supply resource of about 800 megawatts, but rely on the transmission system of Central and South West (CSW).

Missouri Defends PGA Clause

The Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) has rejected a call by its staff, the state's consumer advocate, and customers of Missouri Gas Energy to eliminate the latter's purchased-gas adjustment clause (PGA) in favor of traditional rate-case analysis.

Fitch to Rate Power Marketers

Fitch Investors Service has developed guidelines to rate electric power marketers The firm estimates this "fastest-growing segment" of the changing electric industry could handle as much as $200 billion in annual sales once full deregulation occurs.

According to Fitch, an investment-grade credit rating for power marketers (em "BBB" or better (em would expand the potential amount and scope of their business and help them avoid restrictive counterparty limits as electricity is traded among firms.

N.C. Sets Rules for Local Telco Competition

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has adopted a "minimal" regulatory structure for newly certified, competitive local-exchange telephone carriers (LECs), and has revised existing interim rules governing certification, interconnection, number portability, and universal service in the newly opened markets.

Settling "one of the most contentious issues" in the local competition debate, the NCUC agreed that resale of local service should be permitted, but found it could not yet determine the exact nature and extent of the resale opportunities it would require.

Texas Utility Pushes Pooling

Central and South West Corp.'s subsidiary, Central Power and Light Co. (CPL), has proposed that all ERCOT nonnuclear utilities (em including IPPs, co-ops, and municipals (em become part of a competitive wholesale bulk power pool run by an independent system operator (ISO).

Transmission and distribution companies would continue to own and operate power lines, purchase all nonnuclear generation from the pool, and assume responsibility for actual delivery.

Idaho Wants Earnings Shared for System Upgrades

Once again, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has chosen a revenue-sharing program to allocate earnings by local-exchange carrier (LEC) U S WEST Communications, Inc. to network modernization, rural zone rate reductions, and other system improvements, rather than to broad-based rate refunds.

U S WEST must share a portion of earnings with local-exchange callers under an alternate regulation plan it elected in 1989. During the plan's first two years, the PUC had directed available sharing funds returned to local subscribers as one-time credits.