Electric Retail Choice. The Arkansas Public Service Commission has issued its final report on electric restructuring, citing a "broad" consensus favoring competition. It predicts immediate benefits for industrial customers, but warns that residential users likely will not see any quick rate cut. The PSC saw competition as consistent with action in neighboring states:
• Oklahoma. State law mandates retail choice by July 1, 2002.
• Mississippi. PSC plan would phase-in competition from 2001 to 2004.
• Missouri. Pilot program ok'd by PSC for 5000 large-volume customers. Legislation introduced to allow competition by Jan. 2000.
The PSC asks state legislators for authority to (1) mandate divestiture of utility assets, (2) impose intrastate reciprocity, and (3) approve line construction to assure transmission capacity. The PSC favors competition in metering and billing, but to begin no sooner than the startup for retail energy choice, or perhaps even later. Docket No. 97-451-U, Oct. 1, 1998 (Ark.P.S.C.).
Legislative Immunity. Citing an infringement on its authority, the New Mexico Public Utility Commission rejected a settlement signed by El Paso Electric Co., large power users, the state attorney general, the U.S. Dept. of Defense, and the PUC's advocacy staff, to the extent the deal would have made rates immune to any cuts forced by state legislators.
Otherwise, the deal binds EPE to divest transmission and distribution from other activities, but EPE need not acquire renewable resources prior to a subscription demand by customers. The PUC rejected a special low-income rate as illegal. Case No. 2722, Sept. 24, 1998 (N.M.P.U.C.).