Fortnightly Magazine - July 1 1996
The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) has rejected a request from Bell Atlantic-Virginia, Inc., a telecommunications local exchange carrier (LEC), to reclassify intraLATA message toll service (MTS) as competitive under its new alternative regulation plan.
For the first time, monies have been awarded in an electromagnetic field (EMF) suit. Although it decided that a high-power underground electric transmission line did not cause cancer in Atlantic Electric Co. (AE) customer John Altoonian, a six-person jury has ordered the utility to pay him about $760,000 in damages for lost wages and emotional distress. The first jury was hopelessly deadlocked; the current alternate panel found AE unintentionally negligent. AE calls the award "confusing" and plans to appeal. (em LB
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
To accommodate requirements imposed by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has issued a set of procedural requirements governing requests for interconnection services. According to the NCUC, the federal timeline for compulsory arbitration of differences arising during the course of interconnection negotiations could leave as little as 85 days to render a decision in each case.
A struggle is underway for ownership of the utility business. Not a fight between companies, but a struggle within each company for the future of the utility.
The battle pits two groups against each other. One side consists of the operational professionals, such as the engineers who build and maintain the power grid. The other side includes an emerging group of marketing and communications professionals.
In the past, the engineers "owned" the company.
The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved rates and conditions for interconnection between BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., a local exchange carrier (LEC), and two new competitive providers of local exchange services, Metropolitan Fiber Systems of Florida, Inc. (MFS) and MCI Metro Access Transmission Services, Inc. (MCI). By a separate order, the PSC has adopted provisions for resale of BellSouth services by competing local service providers, including the unbundling of local service components.
As FERC moves forward, most state legislators have remained content to sit back and wait for others to act. Part of this reticence stems from politics—the difficulty of changing course, invading someone else's turf, or tackling a new subject outside one's area of expertise. Legislators view problems differently than do regulators.
Lawmakers see different imperatives than regulators or industry execs, such as protecting the tax base for the local community.
It's as significant for what it does not do as for what it does.
Order 888 marks a significant, yet limited, step in deregulating the U.S. electricity supply industry. Most important, for utility shareholders, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has now apparently established a right to recover costs prudently incurred under the old regulatory compact (if not contract) that may become stranded by the Order. But (em and this is an important but (em the FERC is not going to hand out the money easily.
While designing rates for Southern California Edison Co., the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has reaffirmed its commitment to marginal-cost ratemaking "in light of electric industry restructuring." The CPUC used the cost-allocation and rate-design findings to set new rates based on an overall 4.4-percent decrease in revenues adopted in earlier revenue requirement proceedings.
APPA Director Alan Richardson will fight
toe-to-toe with well-heeled
adversaries. If he were a boxer, his name might be Alan "The Right" Richardson.
The executive director of the American Public Power Association (APPA) always toes the canvas, swinging for equity for his 1,750 members, shadowing its "heavyweight" adversaries, investor-owned electric utilities (IOUs).