Fortnightly Magazine - August 1996

First Nonjurisdictional Utility Uses Order 888 "Safe-Harbor"

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on May 29 found that a nonjurisdictional utility's voluntary open-access tariff, with certain modifications, would meet the electric transmission comparability standards established by Order 888. In the first case of its kind, the South Carolina Public Service Authority (SCPSA) has agreed to satisfy the reciprocity requirement that it offer nondiscriminatory transmission services to obtain open-access service from public utilities (Docket No. NJ96-1-000).

SCPSA submitted the open-access tariff before Order 888 came out.

Utility Rate Filings Owe No Explanation to Investors

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rejected claims that Washington Energy Co., corporate parent of Washington Gas Co., a local distribution company (LDC), committed securities fraud by failing to fully explain that its current application for a rate increase was based in part on expense requests and accounting methods rejected by state regulators in the past.

Order 888 Petitions Strong on Stranded Costs

About 90 parties have filed petitions seeking changes to Order 888. Claiming "errors," the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reverse its assertion of:

s Jurisdiction over unbundled retail transmission services

s "Primary" authority over retail stranded-cost recovery when retail consumers convert to wholesale

s "Backstop" authority to provide stranded-cost recovery when an end user changes power suppliers under a state-established retail wheeling system.

Michigan Approves LEC Rate Restructuring

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has authorized Ameritech Michigan, a local exchange carrier (LEC), to restructure its rates to comply with a new state law forbidding LECs to charge less than the total-service, long-run incremental cost for each local exchange service offered. The LEC claimed that it began with basic services because prices for that segment of the market had been set artificially low for customers in rural areas of the state.

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