Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 1996

States Examine LDC Metering Rules

Utilities in two states have taken steps to exert tighter control over meter-reading services.

The Michigan

Public Service Commission (PSC) has authorized Consumers Power Co., a local distribution company (LDC), to revise its operating rules governing centrally metered service installations.

Off Peak

Capacity and energy go together like corned beef and cabbage (em

even a two-handed economist can see that.The June 11 Power Broker decision from the D.C. Circuit, involving Florida Power and Light Co. (FP&L) and certain wholesale customers (see sidebar), reminds one that a dish of corned beef and cabbage tastes better when you don't leave out the cabbage.

On the surface, the case indicts the idea of average-cost pricing: "All hands recognize that the

problem originates in the use of average costs . . .

Utility Alliance Coordinates Transmission

Virginia Power, Allegheny Power, Centerior Energy, and Ohio Edison have agreed to jointly manage their interconnected transmission systems. The alliance will schedule and coordinate bulk-power transactions, determine reimbursement for wholesale use of utility transmission facilities, resolve member disputes, and handle transmission system accounting. However, each member will retain ownership of its facilities. The alliance will follow the General Agreement on Parallel Paths (GAPP), which includes procedures to coordinate the flow of wholesale power among utilities.

LDC Affiliate Goodwill Adjustment Overturned

The Minnesota Supreme Court has overturned a decision of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to impute revenues while setting rates for Minnegasco (em a division of Noram Energy Corp. and a natural gas local distribution company (LDC) (em in order to compensate ratepayers for the value of corporate goodwill enjoyed by an affiliated customer appliance business. (The state Court of Appeals had upheld the PUC in a 1995 ruling. See Minnegasco, a Division of Noram Energy Corp. v. Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, 529 413, 160 PUR4th 453 (Minn. Ct. App.

Maryland Gas Pilot Offers Choice

Columbia Gas of Maryland (CGM), a subsidiary of The Columbia Gas System, Inc., has asked the Maryland Public Service Commission to approve its "Customer Choice Pilot Program," which would allow 10,000 residential customers to choose their natural gas supplier.

The proposed two-year pilot would begin November 1, and any gas purchased from another supplier would be exempt from the state's 2-percent gross receipts tax. "Our large industrial and commercial gas users have been able to choose their natural gas suppliers for many years," says Gary J.

Florida Weighs in on Customer Preference

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the state Public Service Commission (PSC) failed to properly factor in "customer preference" when resolving a territorial dispute between two electric utilities, Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative and Gulf Power Co. The PSC had ruled that Gulf Power should serve a new correctional facility that the state was planning to locate in West Florida, even though Gulf Coast had participated in the site-selection process and was favored by county and state authorities.

Nevada Takes First Competitive Step

The Nevada Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved an interim order and report finding that competition in the electric industry could benefit the state if the legislature chooses to authorize retail competition.

The PSC said that its investigations revealed no indications that retail competition would impair reliability, violate expectations of utility shareholders, harm customers, reduce tax revenues, or set back the state's economic goals.

New Jersey Upholds LEC Price-cap Plan

The Superior Court of New Jersey has upheld a state regulatory decision authorizing Bell Atlantic-New Jersey, Inc., a local exchange carrier (LEC), to switch from traditional regulation to a new price-cap plan. The new plan sets rates for noncompetitive LEC services by offsetting the annual inflation factor by a separate factor for cost savings due to productivity gains. For its part, the LEC agreed to accelerate deployment of new technologies, including a fiber-optic telecommunications network for the state. See, Re New Jersey Bell Telephone Co., 143 PUR4th 297 (N.J.B.R.C.

Calif. Power Authority Rejects Exit Fee

The Eastside Power Authority (em composed of four California irrigation districts, one municipal utility, and two water districts (em plans to leave Southern California Edison's (SCE's) electric distribution system and serve its own members' water-pumping load. Eastside says it will build its own electric distribution system adjacent to SCE's, and interconnect with the system owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

JCP&L to Help QF Switch to EWG

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has approved Jersey Central Power and Light Co.'s offer to help a local qualifying cogeneration facility (QF) switch its status to that of an exempt wholesale generator (EWG). The QF, NRG Generating (U.S.), Inc., a subsidiary of Northern States Power Co., seeks the change in classification due to concerns about potential future reductions in the need for steam at its host industrial facility owned by Du Pont de Nemours and Co.