Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1997

Bankruptcy Specter Looms in New Hampshire (Again)

Testifying before the New Hampshire Public

Utilities Commission, the CFO of Northeast Utilities, John H. Forsgren, warned that a proposed electric deregulation plan could push subsidiaries Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, and North Atlantic Energy Corp. into bankruptcy.

Consulting company LaCapra Associates gave its deregulation report and recommendations on Jan. 3 to the PUC. The Jan. 20 hearing was aimed at examining stranded costs, and what portion of its $800 million stranded costs PSNH would be allowed to recover.

New Study Has Policymaker's Endorsement

The Heritage Foundation's recently released report, which finds that national electric deregulation would benefit consumers through lower electric rates, better service and more jobs, has the endorsement of a key policymaker.

If Congress passes a bill to deregulate electric markets, the average consumer's monthly electric bill could fall by as much as $30, according to the report, Energizing America: A Blueprint for Deregulating The Electricity Market, written by Adam D. Thierer.

The report has been endorsed by House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas J.

New York Finalizes ISO Proposal

New York Power Authority trustees have approved agreements to help it establish an independent system operator for the statewide electric transmission system, which could be partially implemented in 1997, and fully implemented by mid-1998, if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Members of the New York Power Pool, the authority and the state's seven investor-owned utilities have worked for nearly two years to develop a proposal for an independent system operator, or ISO. The proposal and associated tariffs were submitted to the FERC.

City of Alma Asks for FERC's Help in CE Dispute

The City of Alma, Mich., has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider whether Consumers Energy is entitled to recover stranded costs from customers in the municipality that switches from CE's system to a municipal electric system if the city creates one.

A consultant hired by Alma already has determined the city could own and operate a municipal utility, which would result in cost savings in excess of 20 percent. The savings estimate has been challenged by CE, formerly Consumers Power Co., because the analysis does not contain a stranded-cost payment.

Pennsylvania Issues Pilot Guidelines

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission has approved final guidelines for electric utility pilot programs for Pennsylvania's transition to a competitive retail electric generating market. The pilots will allow a limited number of residential, commercial and industrial customers to choose their electric suppliers.

The "Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act," signed into law by Gov. Tom Ridge Dec. 3, 1996, requires participation in the pilots by customers representing 5 percent of a utility's peak load for each customer class.

Financial News

You've got to reinvest the proceeds (em and not just anywhere.

Recovering stranded investment is sometimes equated to preserving shareholder wealth. In fact, full recovery of stranded investment by itself will not preserve shareholder wealth in most cases.

What is missing all too often in discussions of stranded investment is the role that capital investment plays in the creation of shareholder wealth.

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