Fortnightly Magazine - August 1996

Puget Power's Plans Depend on Merger

Puget Sound Power & Light Co. (PSPL) has asked the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) to approve a plan that would allow large customers to access electricity at market cost, and all customers to choose their electric suppliers within five years. The proposal is contingent upon approval of PSPL's proposed merger with Washington Energy Co.

Indiana on Water Utility Mergers

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (URC) has adopted a new ratemaking policy for mergers involving water utilities: The URC will first look at the fair value of the acquired utility, as determined in its most recent rate case, to determine the reasonableness of the purchase price.

IPP Fights Utility Curtailment

A federal judge has dismissed an antitrust lawsuit brought against Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. (PPL) in 1995 by Schuylkill Energy Resources, Inc. (SER), an independent power producer. SER alleged that PPL's curtailment of electrical output from SER during "minimum generation emergencies" on the regional power pool violated federal antitrust laws.

[A minimum generation emergency is declared by the pool when low amounts of electricity are being used by customers.

Ohio Proposes Electricity Aggregation Pilot

The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has proposed a set of guidelines for "conjunctive electric service" offerings. (Conjunctive service is described as the aggregation of service provided at different locations for cost-of-service, rate design, rate eligibility, and billing


The proposed guidelines are intended to facilitate a two-year pilot program under the PUC's roundtable on competition in the electric industry.

KCP&L, UtiliCorp Fight Hostile Takeover

Kansas City Power & Light Co. (KCPL) and UtiliCorp United Inc. (UU), which announced plans to merge on January 22, have amended their merger agreement in response to a hostile takeover attempt by Western Resources, Inc. The revised terms create a new KCPL subsidiary, which would be merged into UU. The resulting company would then be merged with KCPL to form the combined company. UU shareholders would receive one share in the merged company for each UU share held. KCPL shareholders would continue to hold their existing KCPL shares.

Penn. Upholds Gas-cost Incentive Program

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has upheld a ruling by the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) implementing a three-year, performance-based, gas-cost incentive program for Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Inc., a local distribution company (LDC). The program compares LDC spot-market purchases to the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) average, sharing any savings between the company and ratepayers. The court rejected allegations that state law forbids recovery in excess of prudently incurred actual costs.

PP&L Resources Seeks Piece of SWEB

Power Markets Development Co., a subsidiary of PP&L Resources, Inc., is negotiating to acquire a minority interest in British electric distribution company South Western Electricity Board (SWEB). It has submitted a proposal to purchase an interest in Southern Investments-UK, the holding company for SWEB, from Southern Electric International (SEI), which acquired SWEB last fall. Should the purchase go through, SEI intends to maintain majority ownership and management control of SWEB. t

Lori A. Burkhart is an associate legal editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.

Court Considers Inflation Adjustments, Advertising Costs

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has asked the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) to explain 1) why it disallowed a substantial portion of advertising costs in setting rates for National Fuel Gas Corp., a local distribution company (LDC); and 2) why it had rejected the LDC's request for a separate inflation adjustment of 2.58 percent for 17 cost elements.

The court found the PUC's rationale (em that the LDC's advertising was "in essence targeted to seek and retain load" (em insufficient, since recovery of costs associated with similar advertisements had been allowed in


Professor Peter Navarro, who teaches economics and public policy at the University of California at Irvine, writes in the Harvard Business Review (January-February 1996) that "[t]he deregulation of the electric utility industry represents an important opportunity to enhance the country's competitiveness and improve the standard of living for its citizens. ...

N.C. Assigns New Gas-service Areas

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has made preliminary assignments of unfranchised gas-service areas to local distribution companies (LDCs), pursuant to a 1995 state law. An earlier NCUC order sought applications from LDCs (see, Re Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity for Natural Gas Service, 164 PUR4th 591 (N.C.U.C. 1995)).