Fortnightly Magazine - July 1 1996

Prudential Predicts Revenue Losses for All Utilities

In a recent report, A Free Market for Power Would Mean Revenue Losses for All Utilities (em But Some Would Suffer More Than Others, Prudential Securities simulated a competitive electricity market (em assuming that all industrial and commercial customers would be able to choose their electric supplier by 1998 (em to find out how a completely free market for power would affect utility revenues, earnings, and dividends.

The competitive risk study statistically measured marginal costs, then created a simulated spot-market electricity price for each of the 11 geographical reg

N.Y. Relaxes Regulation of AT&T

Finding the state's long-distance telecommunications market sufficiently competitive, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has relaxed price controls for AT&T Communications of New York, Inc., an interexchange carrier (IXC) currently regulated as a dominant provider of long-distance services. Under the settlement agreement, AT&T will freeze price floors and ceilings for basic long-distance service (message toll service, or "MTS") for five years and give customers a one-time rate reduction to reflect lower access charges AT&T must pay to local exchange carriers in the state.

Competing Bids Filed for Cajun

Ralph Mabey, trustee for Cajun Electric Power Co-op. in its bankruptcy proceeding, has filed a reorganization plan at the Federal District Court in Baton Rouge, LA. Mabey chose a bid from NRG Energy, Inc. and Zeigler Coal Holding Co.: about $1.1 billion in cash to purchase most of Cajun's nonnuclear assets. However, that offer faces a competing bid filed by the Cajun Electric Members Committee, Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SEP), and Gulf States Utilities.

QF Fails to Raise Avoided Cost Rates

The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) has ruled that it is preempted by federal law from modifying the avoided-cost rate in a purchased-power agreement implemented under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA).

The developers of a qualifying cogeneration facility (QF), Bituminous Power Partners, L.P., had asked the PSC to raise the contract rate for avoided energy in its purchased-power contract with Monongahela Power Co.

Moody's: NiMo Bankruptcy Possible

Moody's Investors Service downgraded the long-term credit ratings of Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. (NiMo) on April 25, citing the utility's "limited progress" in achieving the goals set forth in its "PowerChoice" proposal, among other concerns.

Virginia Rejects IntraLATA Competition

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.

Jury Awards EMF Damages Discrimination

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.

States Prepare for Federal Telecom Mandates

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.

LECs Agree on Resale and Interconnection

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.