Fortnightly Magazine - June 15 1996

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.

Perspective

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.

Okla. Court Voids Rule on Exit Fees

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional a state Commission rule that forced electric utilities that acquire a customer from a competitor to compensate the competitor for all associated costs and then pass such costs along to their own customers.

The court said the rule exceeded Commission authority by usurping the utility management function (em forbidding the utility to choose to absorb costs associated with switching customers.

Duquesne Proposes Marginal Pricing

Duquesne Light Co. proposes to charge wholesale customers marginal cost-based rates to transmit electricity over its system. The company's April 15 filing asks the Federal Energy

Regulatory Commission to allow it to charge only marginal transmission costs (cost incurred due to additional electric power being transmitted on the system), and no embedded costs (fixed investment in plant and other facilities).

Penn. Eyes New Role Under Telecom Act of 1996

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has issued a "tentative" statement identifying specific areas of state regulation that might require alteration or adjustment under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

It emphasized that federal law appears to preempt its authority to restrict market entry on public interest grounds, but at the same time will impose "far-reaching" responsibilities regarding interconnection and universal service, plus activities "in areas and functions previously unknown to this Commission."

Among other things, it suggested converting al