Fortnightly Magazine - June 15 1996

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Primergy Merger. Michigan regulators have OK'd the merger between Wisconsin Electric Power Co. and Northern States Power Co. The settlement assumes about 2 percent in cost savings on combined Michigan revenues, and imposes a four-year moratorium on rate hikes. Case No. U-10913, April 10, 1996 (Mich.P.S.C.).

Gas Pipeline Certification. Michigan certifies Thunder Bay Pipeline Co., L.L.C.

Ohio Recommends $1.25 Billion Write-off for Centerior

The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has granted rate increases for Toledo Edison Co. and the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. (subsidiaries of Centerior Energy Corp.) in the full amount requested, but at the same time has recommended that Centerior remove from its regulatory books $1.25 billion in electric utility assets over a five-year period.

Orange & Rockland Asks for Choice

Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. (O&R) has asked the New York

Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve a rate settlement that includes a proposal for a retail wheeling pilot program, "PowerPick" (Case 95-E-0491).

PowerPick would allow certain large industrial customers to choose their electric suppliers starting June 1, 1996. All other customer classes would be eligible to participate as of January 1, 1997; however, residential participation will be capped at 1,500 customers.

Wellhead Prices Drop; Electric Growth Slows

The Energy Information Administration has released its second-quarter Short-Term Energy Outlook projections. Some of its predictions for gas and electric markets:

s Normal temperatures and continued economic growth will raise total annual gas demand in 1996 to a high of 21.9 trillion cubic feet. In 1997, demand is expected to rise 2.7 percent, to 22.5 trillion cubic feet.

PUC Uphelds Selective Rate Discounting

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has declined as a general policy to require electric utilities that award a rate discount to an individual customer to offer the same discount to the customer's competitors.

The case involved Central Maine Power Co., which had negotiated a discount with Southern Container Corp. under its alternative rate plan. Union Camp Corp., a competitor in the corrugated box business, had then asked for a comparable discount, complaining of discrimination.

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.