Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 1996


In telecommunications, regulators turn increasingly to the nebulous term known as "cost-based" to set pricing policy. An example is the new Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Act), whose pricing standards for interconnection and network element charges stipulate that the just and reasonable rate for the interconnection of facilities and equipment should be "based on the cost ...

Minn. Approves Incentive Gas-purchasing Plan

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a performance-based gas-purchasing plan for Minnegasco, a natural gas local distribution company (LDC).

The incentive plan contains two benchmarks for measuring the utility's gas-purchasing performance: 1) a market-based benchmark with demand and commodity components, and 2) a comparison benchmark consisting of a volume-weighted, average, total annual gas cost per million British thermal units for the state's three largest LDCs (after Minnegasco itself).

Electric Industry Splits Over National Choice Bill

Schaefer measure wins praise from UtiliCorp, Enron, and others, but EEI wants relief on stranded costs."The Electricity Consumers Power to Choose Act," introduced by Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-CO), while designed to bring competition to the electric industry, has definitely attracted controversy. The bill has evoked strong reactions from industry players as well as intense lobbying efforts on the part of promoters and detractors. Everyone, it seems, wants to put in their two cents as the bill makes its way across Capitol Hill.

Michigan Reviews LEC Tariffs, Resale Provisions

While reviewing interconnection issues generic to competition in the telecommunications local exchange market, the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has mandated that local exchange carriers (LECs) offer all basic local exchange services for resale at wholesale rates to competitors as well as affiliates.

Dominion Pushes IMM Tariff at FERC

Dominion Resources, Inc. (DRI) has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to declare its proposed "impacted megawatt mile (IMM)" tariff a just and reasonable method of pricing transmission service.

The IMM tariff would base electric transmission prices on the actual flows that result from each transmission service, taking account of the size and distance of power flows on all affected lines, the direction of the flows, line loadings, and the costs of relieving any congestion.

Virginia Investigates Holding Company Dispute

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) has directed Virginia Electric and Power Co., a subsidiary of Dominion Resources, Inc., to adopt conflict-of-interest standards to govern board of director membership. The SCC also directed the utility to file an annual independent audit of its affiliate transactions and to cooperate with commission staff in determining whether "Virginia Power is paying for duplicative executive services" from its holding company parent. The action grows out of an SCC investigation into a 1994 public dispute between the utility and Dominion Resources.

Firm-to-the-Wellhead Rates Make Comeback

Harkening back to the pre-Order 636 era, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued two orders approving firm-to-the-wellhead rates for Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corp. (Docket Nos. RP92-137-016 and RP93-136-000) and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. (Docket Nos. RP91-203-000 and RP92-132-000).

In initial decisions, one administrative law judge had approved firm-to-the-wellhead rates in the Tennessee case; another had deemed them anticompetitive in the Transco case.

Ohio Orders Open-access Gas Service

While approving a proposal by Marbel Energy Corp., owner of an independent gas and oil production business, to acquire Northeast Ohio Natural Gas Corp., a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), and Ohio Intrastate Gas transmission Co., an intrastate gas pipeline, the Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has directed both the LDC and the pipeline to offer nondiscriminatory open access to all of their service offerings. The PUC explained that the open-access condition would further competition in the state's natural gas industry.

ESCos, Round Two: Fighting for Market Share

How much will utilities invest

in energy service companies to boost earnings beyond the normal growth rate?Going on the "defensive-offensive."

In the early 1990s, flush with utility money from its corporate parent, Entergy Systems and Service, Inc. began expanding to provide competitive energy services.