In the first order under a 1995 law designed to increase competition in the electric wholesale market, the Texas Public Utilities Commission ordered Central Power & Light Co. to cut rates.
Meanwhile, Moody's has predicted that legislation introduced in the Texas Senate and House giving choice to small ratepayers is unlikely to pass.
Rate Cut. On March 31, the PUC ordered a $32.3-million rate cut for Central Power & Light Co. retroactive to May 1996. An additional $16.4-million rate cut must be implemented annually in 1998 and 1999 (Docket No. 14965).
The 1995 legislation has led to a marked decline in prices power paid by utilities. In the Central Power & Light rate decision, the PUC decided that firm customers should benefit from those declining costs. Hence, the use for the first time of a downward "glide path" methodology for rates, which sets rates to capture depreciation and efficiencies. The further reductions, effective in May 1998 and May 1999, would allow customers to benefit from declining book values. The glide path further establishes an additional 1.95-percent decrease for firm customers in 1998, and an additional 2-percent decrease in 1999.
To prepare Central Power & Light for competition, the PUC directed an accelerated depreciation of $859 million of stranded costs related to the utility's investment in the South Texas nuclear project. It ordered the utility to depreciate it over 20 years rather than the remaining 32-year life of the plant.