Fortnightly Magazine - July 1 1996

A Champion for Public Power

Soft-spoken, but no featherweight,

APPA Director Alan Richardson will fight

toe-to-toe with well-heeled

adversaries. If he were a boxer, his name might be Alan "The Right" Richardson.

The executive director of the American Public Power Association (APPA) always toes the canvas, swinging for equity for his 1,750 members, shadowing its "heavyweight" adversaries, investor-owned electric utilities (IOUs).

FERC Upholds Rollin-in Rates for Great Lakes Gas

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued its rehearing order for Great Lakes Gas Transmission Ltd. Partnership (GLGT), upholding its July 26, 1995, order allowing GLGT to roll in the costs of expanding its natural gas pipeline facilities (Docket Nos. RP91-143-030 et al.).

The July 26 order was issued on remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, reversing a 1991 order allowing incremental pricing. The case arose when GLGT spent over $700 million to expand its pipeline system.

Montana PSC Limits LDC Rate Increase

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) has authorized Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), to increase rates by $1.008 million. The increase includes an allowance for return on common equity of 12 percent. The PSC permitted the new rates to enable the LDC to recover the entire nongas cost increase from the residential customer class. It refused, however, to approve rate rebalancing to shift an additional $1.5 million of revenue requirement to the residential class without a thorough study of both gas and nongas costs.

Pipelines: Beware of Riptides

Gas restructuring didn't end with Order 636, it just outran the regulators. Now the rules come from the downstream dealmakers.

Gas restructuring didn't end with Order 636, it just outran the regulators. Now the rules come from the downstream dealmakers.

D'Amato Sends PUHCA Bill to Mark Up

"This is not an intent to strip away consumer protection," Sen. Alfonse M.

D'Amato (R-NY) told

a Senate panel about S. 1317, a bipartisan bill to repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA).

D'Amato, chair of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, received nods from federal and state regulators at the June 6 hearing, although each voiced reservations. Three utility chiefs spoke in favor of the legislation.

Consumer advocates took the opposite tack.

Off Peak

A few utility executives claim to sleep untroubled by the future of their companies. Most, however, admit to some tossing and turning engendered by concern over competition and the complacency of coworkers.

What, if anything, are they doing about it?

A survey of 117 PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY subscribers reveals that American utility executives are asking themselves all the tough questions about the future of their operations. It also reveals a widespread sense of urgency in the search for answers.

R&D for a Competitive Power Industry

R & D for

a Competitive Power Industry

The secret lies in gaining exclusive-use rights to protect your product or process from your competitors.

The electric utility industry is inherently a high-technology business. Those who ignore this fact for long will fall behind (em not only in using the technology, but also in contending against their higher-tech competitors.

FERC to Standardize Gas Practices

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a proposed rule to standardize the business practices of open-access

natural gas pipelines (Docket No. RM96-1-000). The rule would adopt the 140 standards recently filed by the Gas Industry Standards Board (GISB).

The proposal calls for a standard Internet connection between pipelines and customers, to eliminate the disparity in procedures and interfaces that have caused confusion to date.

Who's Covered, Who Isn't

The term "parachute payment" includes "any payment in the nature of compensation to . . . a disqualified individual . . .

For purposes of this section, an individual is a disqualified individual . . . if . . . the individual is an employee or independent contractor of the corporation and is

a) A shareholder [More than $1 million or one percent of fair market value]

b) An officer, or

c) A highly compensated individual

. . . .

The term 'officer' implies continuity of service. ...

Tax Corner

Many executives of publicly held utility corporations have written severance agreements to protect them in the event of a change in control. However, these severance packages remain vulnerable to attack by acquirers.

Two separate threats are emerging. One involves a direct attack on drafting flaws in the plan documents. The other, more subtle, threat lies in the impact and interpretation of the special "Golden Parachute" rules under the Internal Revenue Code. This second threat warrants attention.