Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1996

Florida Rejects Electric Discount Plan

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has rejected a proposal by Gulf Power Co. to offer negotiated contracts to large, "at-risk" customers that would otherwise leave the system to find power from another source.

Enron's End Run

Marriage of convenience eyes retail market.

By Richard S. Green and J. Michael Parish

Enron's proposed entry into the electric energy business is a "wake-up call." Open competition will continue to accelerate, and new, aggressive players will seek ways to become involved as the energy and energy services businesses converge.

A combined Enron/Portland General Corp.

SoCalGas Arques Over Fuel Charge

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has taken issue with the coal industry's opinion that lower electric rates from restructuring would increase electricity use, and that strict environmental regulations would require meeting the increased demand with out-of-state generation.

"These coal industry groups suggest that electricity demand will rise because cheap coal-fired electric power (em generated in Arizona and elsewhere (em will now be available," said Lee Stewart, a SoCalGas senior vice president.

Ohio Reviews Gas Regulation

The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has opened a docket to examine regulatory reform of the state's natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs), responding to a new state law (Amended Substitute House Bill 476) signed June 18 by Ohio Gov. George Voinovich. It directed its staff and interested parties to develop ideas for alternative regulatory plans and for LDCs to enter the "commodity sales" market.

Measuring the Merger: Fact, Fiction, and Prediction

Some shareholders do find bottom-line value

in a "marriage of convenience."

With six merger and acquisition (M&A) deals announced between May 1995 and January 1996, and three more so far this year, the long-predicted consolidation of the electric utility industry is taking hold. At least 23 utilities, with business-combination transactions pending, are part of the frenetic domestic M&A activity that has swept the industry.

Cascade Aims for Divident Payouts

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) has approved a settlement agreement allowing Cascade Natural Gas Corp. (CNG) to increase its rates by $3.8 million a year starting August 1, 1996.

CNG will also hike its monthly service charge to residential, commercial, and core industrial customers by $1 on August 1, 1997, and by another $1 on August 1, 1998. The utility says the revenue increase would be offset by concurrent decreases in rates for transportation customers.

Perspective

To what extent should the independent system operator (ISO) and the spot market (Power Exchange) remain separate? Thinking about how the ISO must operate leads to certain conclusions.

Of necessity, the ISO will operate a noncontract market. That is, the ISO will match some supply and some demand that are not covered by generator-customer contracts.

Off Peak

California's CTC:

Light-handed or Light-headed?Customers didn't buy power on lay-away. So why should the CPUC exact interest?

In a recent dream, the Governor of California called to ask if I would accept an appointment to serve on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Of course I thanked him and said I was extremely flattered by the offer. However, I inquired, didn't he have an opening on the parole board or air resources board? You see, I know entirely too much about the thankless work of the CPUC.

V