FERC's New Merger Policy Applied. In the first application of its new merger policy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Jan. 15 told six Midwestern utilities that they would have to negotiate an agreement to protect ratepayers in order to form a new holding company, Interstate Energy Corp.
FERC also set for hearing limited competitive issues (Docket Nos. EC96-13-000 et al.).
Intervenors were concerned that the utilities offered to freeze rates rather than reduce them, so the FERC gave the applicants 30 days to negotiate an "adequate" ratepayer protection mechanism.
The FERC said that if parties fail to make such an agreement, it either would decide the issue on the basis of the written record, or set the issue for hearing.
The FERC accepted and set for hearing the companies' proposed open-access tariff and coordination agreement, which would take effect if the merger is approved. The utilities seeking to merge are IES Utilities Inc., Interstate Power Co., Wisconsin Power & Light Co., Industrial Energy Applications Inc., Heartland Energy Services and South Beloit Water, Gas & Electric Co.
Feds To Open National Debate. U.S. Senate Energy Chairman Frank Mukowski (R-Alaska) will hold a series of workshops beginning late February to debate the openeing of the national electric market to cometition.
"My goal is to ensure all consumers the lowest-priced electricity consistent with reliable service," Murkowski said, through the use of "deregulation, regulatory streamlining and empowering the states to promote retail competition." t