Fortnightly Magazine - August 1996


The United States Telephone Association has called for more voluntary interconnection agreements between telecom companies, claiming that the resulting competition will bring consumers more choices. USTA cited more than 50 signed agreements with companies that want to connect to the local network, and nearly 500 ongoing negotiations.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the Gas Research Institute's request for a 20-percent cut in its 1996 research, development, and commercialization budget.

Gas Unbundling: Benefits "Uncertain" for Small Customers

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has adopted a set of policy guidelines to restructure and promote competition in local gas markets. The PSC said that a major problem is determining how smaller core customers can benefit: "Reliance on competitive market forces is preferable to regulation," but only when competition is effective and sustainable. To test for competition, the PSC will monitor: 1) the ability of providers to make functionally equivalent service readily available, and 2) the numbers and market strength of competitive providers.

Keneteck Windpower Files Chapter 11

Kenetech Windpower (KW), a subsidiary of Kenetech Corp., on May 29 filed a voluntary petition of reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. Parent corporation Kenetech does not intend to seek bankruptcy relief, nor cause any of its subsidiaries not directly engaged in the windpower business to seek such relief.

States Promote Local Telephone Competition

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) has set rates and terms for unbundled interconnection services that U S WEST Communications, Inc., a local exchange carrier (LEC), must provide to other carriers seeking to provide competitive local service. The IUB ruled that U S WEST must use the Total Service Long Run Incremental Cost method to set prices for the use of its facilities. It also ruled that the LEC may include "an appropriate markup" in the rates as well as a contribution to shared and common costs of the local loop.

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.