CALIFORNIA ELECTRIC RESTRUCTURING. California Assemblywoman Diane Martinez, chairwoman of the Utilities and Commerce Committee, has introduced two new bills aimed at protecting consumers in a competitive market. But the measures already have been put on hold for this year. The first bill, AB 579, would cut rates for residential and small-volume commercial customers by 20 percent, rather than by 10 percent as promised in the state's restructuring act, AB 1890. Her measure also would finance the rate in part by eliminating the securitization bond issue planned under AB 1890. The other bill, AB 1154, would prevent utility recovery of stranded nuclear assets above market costs.
COAL FUTURES CONTRACT. The New York Mercantile Exchange has submitted to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission a proposed coal futures contract, which NYMEX hopes to launch later this year. A contract unit would consist of 37,200 million British thermal units of coal, at a delivery facility on the Ohio River between Milepost 306 and 317, or on the Big Sandy River. The delivery period would begin no earlier than the first day of the month and at least seven days before the end of the month, but would be completed by the last day of the month.
TWO subsidiaries, Union Gas and Centra Gas Ontario Inc., of Westcoast Energy Inc., merged to form Union Gas Limited. Since 1994, Union Gas and Centra Gas Ontario have operated under a shared services agreement. Union Gas Limited will handle all business formerly handled by Union Gas and Centra Gas Ontario.