Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1997


Sears, Roebuck and Co. selected Enova Energy as a partner in a "regional energy alliance." Enova Energy, an Enova Corp. subsidiary, will design and install a technical learning center at Sears' Tucson, AZ department store. The company also will provide energy services at other Sears stores in several western states. The learning center will be one of a nationwide system of energy-efficient stores used as models and for the testing and training of facility operations equipment. All of the store's services will be aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing costs.

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Natural Gas Briefs

Gas Marketing Affiliates. Indiana finds no jurisdiction to regulate Proliance Energy, LLC, a brokering and energy services affiliate of Indiana Gas Co., Inc. and Citizens Gas and Coke Utility, but says it will regulate the utilities in their transactions with Proliance. Case No. 40437, Sept. 27, 1996 (Ind.U.R.C.).

Gas Regulatory Reform. Ohio proposes alternative regulatory procedures for natural gas local distribution companies. Case No. 96-700-GA-ORD, Sept. 26, 1996 (Ohio P.U.C.).

Employee Incentives.

WSCC Endorses Mandatory Protocols

The Board of Trustees of the Western Systems Coordinating Council (WSCC) has endorsed a new reliability compact that would require mandatory compliance and enforcement of established electric system reliability protocols in the Western U.S.

WSCC said it is taking a leadership role in overhauling the existing "voluntary" reliability management process and replacing it with a new framework to strengthen the roles, responsibilities, and authorities of WSCC and the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC).

State Take Lead in Telecom Reform

A federal court blocks FCC's "TELRIC" cost rule, but some states endorse it anyway.

With the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) having lost a major court battle last fall, the state public utility commission (PUCs) have taken the lead in the deregulation of local telephone service promised a year ago when President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (the "Act").

Some states have opened generic investigations; others have chosen to proceed case-by-case in individual arbitration proceedings.

Backers of Transmission Line Would Win Capacity Rights

Massachusetts-based New England Electric System (NEES) plans to sidetrack possible opposition by offering first rights to firm service on a proposed 25-mile electric transmission line to any potential users who will support the line during its permitting phase.

The new line, a 600-megawatt, high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) submarine transmission cable from Connecticut to Long Island, would begin and end on utility property, requiring no new land takings and presumably raising few environmental issues.

LDC Would Act as "Marketer"

The North Carolina Utilities Commission has approved a proposal by Public Service Co. of North Carolina (the "LDC") to market gas supplies and unused pipeline capacity to large users through a joint venture between its own affiliate and a non-affiliated gas marketer.

The affiliate, PSNC Production Corporation, will own 50% of the new venture. The second venture partner is an unnamed, nonaffiliated marketing company that operates on a nationwide basis.

CILCO Introduces Competing Ideas For Illinois Choice

The Consumer Choice Partnership, backed by Central Illinois Light Co. (CILCO), has unveiled a set of "principles" to send to Illinois legislators in hopes of encouraging legislation to bring electric competition in Illinois as soon as possible, for all customer classes, with limited recovery of transition costs.

CILCO is the state's only major utility not to back a bill introduced last November (proposed by the Illinois Coalition for Responsible Electricity Choice) that would phase-in retail choice through 2005.

Commission Examines LDC Plan to Slash Industrial Rates

The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) has criticized a request by Shenandoah Gas Co. to require its residential and commercial customers to pay the lion's share of a newly approved rate increase, citing the utility's cost studies as "flawed" and its cost allocations as having compounded the error.

The company had argued that its cost studies showed that interruptible customers were already generating a 45 percent rate of return, while rates for its firm customers produced a negative return on the investment necessary to serve them.

California Puc Sets PG&E Transition Charge

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved an interim competitive transition charge (CTC) for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PGE), effective until the PUC adopts a permanent, industry-wide CTC.

PG&E would collect the charge (39 percent of the current bundled rate) from any customer existing its system before January 1, 1998, the start of electric competition in California.

PG&E spokesman Tony Ledwell said less than a dozen customers had indicated they would attempt to leave the PG&E system early.

Arkansas Examines Arkla Merger Plan

Finding no adverse consequences, but warning that the record was not yet complete, the Arkansas Public Service Commission has granted preliminary approval of a plan for the merger of Houston Industries, Inc., the holding company for Houston Lighting and Power Co., and NorAm Energy Corp., which provides natural gas distribution service in several states via three operating divisions, Arkla, Entex, and Minnegasco.

PSC Approval will remain conditional pending the outcome of related merger proceedings in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Minnesota, as well as before the Federal Energy Regulato