DOE's Smith "No Chance" for Restrucutring Bill This Year

Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1997
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Douglas W. Smith, deputy general counsel for energy policy at the Department of Energy, addressed several timely legislative issues in a recent speech, including that of a federal restructuring mandate, which he said, is unlikely to be passed by Congress this year.

"There never was a chance for federal restructuring legislation this year," Smith said, on May 22 at a conference in Arlington, Va., sponsored by PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY, "Restructuring & Convergence: Successful Strategies in the Energy Services Marketplace." He predicted that there was "almost zero chance for such legislation before the end of this Congress," which ends September 1998.

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Smith said that of the six states that had passed legislation and the 12 that had begun retail wheeling pilots as of late May, the most interesting development was a restructuring bill passed in Montana. (See Headlines, this issue, p. 14.) The Montana bill "defies conventional wisdom," Smith said, because the presumption has been that states with low-cost electric would not move toward competition. Also, Montana Power Co. had urged passage of that legislation.

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