Fortnightly Magazine - June 15 1996

Calif. Telcos Seeking Compensation

Administrative law judge Barbara Hale has recommended that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reject requests from Pacific Bell and GTE California for billions of dollars in compensation for financial losses expected from local telephone competition (Docket R95-04-043). Pacific Bell is seeking $3.7 billion over five years; GTE is asking for about $500 million.

Michigan Sidesteps Wheeling Injury

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC), facing questions on how fast it will move on retail wheeling and direct access, has suspended scheduled hearings on a request by MasoTech Forming Technologies, Inc. to set up a "cost-based, fair, and competitive" electric transportation rate.

MasoTech, a customer of Detroit Edison Co., had asked the PSC how and when it intended to implement recommendations concerning direct access offered by the Michigan Jobs Commission and transmitted to the PSC earlier this year by Gov. John Engler.

Wisconsin Gas Wants Some Competition

Wisconsin Gas Co. has asked the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to approve "GasAdvantage," a pilot that would allow competitors to supply natural gas to 1,000 residential and 1,200 commercial customers starting November 1. Participating customers would have from August 1 to October 15 to choose a specific marketer to serve them for a one-year period. Wisconsin Gas will continue to transport the gas, but customers will be billed by the marketer. Wisconsin Gas proposes to develop standards of business conduct to screen potential marketers.

Electric's Telecom Project Draws Complaint

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has denied attempts by MicroNet, a microwave telecommunications firm, to head off possible competition from Jersey Central Power and Light Co., which planned to upgrade its existing two-way radio communications systems by installing antennas and microwave dishes on new and existing towers spread across the state.

MicroNet had claimed the upgrades would create excess capacity and questioned the possibility of ratepayer subsidies.

Nuclear Plants Get High Marks

The Nuclear Energy Institute reports that nuclear power plants are exceeding performance goals for safety and reliability. In 1995, the U.S. nuclear industry:

s Achieved the highest capability factor ever: a median value of 82.6 percent. (Unit capability is a percentage of the most electricity a plant can produce, limited by plant management.)

s Reduced unplanned automatic shutdowns or scrams by almost 90 percent since 1980.

s Met safety performance in 94 percent of the systems.


Deregulation, competition, and marketplace practices have been spreading slowly across the communications business for decades. In their wake, they have left lower prices, faster innovation, and more services, jobs, profits, and productivity.

Among the proposals for still further change, one of the most shocking is the idea that radio rights should be bought and sold on the open market, just like land or any other commodity.

Ohio Issues Rules for Interruptible Electric Service

The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has OK'd final guidelines for interruptible (IT) electric service, with rules for pricing service options, returning to firm service, and obtaining replacement power so that customers can "buy through" interruptions.

The PUC stressed that new IT tariffs should not guarantee reentry to firm service prior to the expiration of a stated notice period. Utilities must use best efforts to provide replacement power in non-emergency situations and allow customers to specify a source of replacement power.

Electric Reform in Great Britain: An imperfect Model.

First came the Pool, with its faults and virtues.

Now comes a wave of troubling takeovers.

What happens when retail supply opens up?

Much of the pressure to reform the electricity supply industry in the United States assumes that the United Kingdom's electricity experiment offers a proven model.

California IOUs Draft FERC Filings

The three largest California investor-owned utilities (IOUs) (em Pacific Gas and Electric Co., San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDGE), and Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) have circulated for comment working drafts of future Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) filings concerning a deregulated electricity industry.

One 150-page proposal asks that operational dispatch control of transmission facilities be conveyed to an ISO, beginning January 1, 1998.