Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1997

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Electric Exit Fees. New Jersey board exempts General Motors Corp. from any exit fees imposed in the future to collect electric utilities' stranded costs, in connection with GM's plans to build a $2.2-million gas-fired cogeneration facility (PURPA-qualified) at its Linden auto assembly plant. GM said it had checked all laws and regulations and had found no current obligation to pay exit fees. Docket No. ET96090669, June 24, 1997 (N.J.B.P.U.).

Residential Gas Rates. Arkansas OKs settlement allowing Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corp.

Scarce Resources, Real Business or Threat to Profitability?

All three may apply, especially if regulators go wrong and let ISOs make the business decisions.

Electricity transmission is a real business. With more than $50 billion of net plant, another $3 billion annually in capital expenditures and yearly operating income that could reach $5 billion per year under normal circumstances, the power grid is roughly twice the size of the natural gas pipeline industry. One would never know that from current events, however. Utility management treats transmission as an inconvenient stepchild.

Gas Pilot Programs Gain Steam

Over the summer, a handful of states approved gas pilot programs that will introduce choice of supplier to residential, and small commercial customers in preparation for the heating season. The decisions welcome the expansion of customer choice to smaller users, but pay careful attention to operational details such as who controls storage and upstream pipeline capacity to performance balancing services.

New Jersey. Finding greater than expected public interest, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has authorized New Jersey Natural Gas Co.

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