Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1996


Entergy Corp. signed a letter of intent to acquire National Security Service, a security monitoring company that operates in North Carolina and Alabama. Entergy claims the acquisition places it among the top alarm companies in the country.

K Energy, Inc. has begun "Simple ChoiceSM" (em energy, communications, and "infotainment" services in one package, paid with one bill.

Gas Transport Available for Low-income Customers

A settlement agreement approved by the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) for National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. "would attempt to institute" a gas transportation program on behalf of low-income residential gas users.

The agreement also allows the utility to increase its rates by 2.2 percent in equal increments over a two-year period and provides for an equal sharing between the company and its ratepayers of earnings in excess of a 12-percent return on common equity.

Duff & Phelps Applauds Mass. Atty. General's Plan

The Massachusetts Attorney General and the New England Electric System (NEES) have unveiled a plan to restructure electric utilities in Massachusetts (em "Consumers First."

The plan would allow all residential and business customers of investor-owned utilities to choose their electric supplier on January 1, 1998, and mandates that all customers receive a minimum 10-percent reduction on monthly bills. Existing purchased-power contracts would be honored, and approved utility investments recovered, subject to independent market valuations.

Electric Utility Expands Market-based Rate Plan

The Oregon Public Utility Commission has authorized Portland General Electric Co. to expand market-based (discounted) pricing options for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers, by lowering the minimum load threshold from 10 to 5 megawatts.

Pricing under the new tariff is based on either 1) an annual fixed-price quote set at the beginning of the contract year and reflecting the market price of power delivery to the utility's service territory; or 2) the daily nonfirm price at the California-Oregon Border, plus 1 mill per kilowatt-hour.

NY IOUSs Sue PSC Over Restructuring Decision

Investor-owned utility (IOU) members of the Energy Association of New York have joined in a lawsuit against the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) and its May 16 Competitive Opportunities decision, which called for a wholesale competitive market in 1997 and introduction of retail access in 1998.

The IOUs claim the lawsuit does not challenge the introduction of competition to New York's electric utility industry, but targets the "vague language" and incomplete guidelines.

California Maintains Limits on RTP Pilot

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has denied a request by a large noncore gas user for a waiver from eligibility limits imposed under a real-time pricing (RTP) experiment for gas transportation service approved by the CPUC in 1994 for San Diego Gas and Electric Co. (SDG&E).

In an earlier ruling, the CPUC had restricted eligibility for the RTP experiment to a maximum of 10 customers per year, and had excluded electric generation and cogeneration customers from eligibility.

Las Cruces Stymied in El Paso Takeover

The U.S. District Court for New Mexico has ruled that the City of Las Cruces, NM, failed to meet the burden of proof required to take over through condemnation the electric facilities owned by El Paso Electric Co. (EPE) [City of Las Cruces v. El Paso Electric Co., No.

Arizona Extends Plan to Share LDC Pipeline Capcity

The Arizona Corporation Commission has extended its interim approval of the "Interstate Pipeline Capacity Sharing Program" implemented by Southwest Gas Corp.

The plan allows the gas utility to buy gas on the spot market from areas outside the area served by its traditional pipeline supplier, El Paso Natural Gas Co., and then transport the gas using pipeline capacity held by El Paso's other operating divisions in Nevada and California. The utility then credits the contributing pipeline division with one-half of the commodity-cost savings as compensation.

California Bill Evokes Opposing Responses

Moody's Investors Service has confirmed the debt ratings of California's three largest IOUs (em Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PGE: Sr. Secured A2), San Diego Gas and Electric Co. (SDG&E: Sr. Secured A1), and Southern California Edison Co. (SCE: Sr. Secured A2) (em following passage of AB 1890, the California legislature's restructuring bill.

Moody's says that legislative endorsement of stranded-cost recovery is a favorable development for utility creditors, but notes that ultimate recovery depends on regulatory approval.

LDC Sales Customers Win Allocation Dispute

After reviewing an application by National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp., a local distribution company (LDC), to increase its purchased-gas cost rate, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has ordered the LDC to credit its sales customers with revenues collected from the transportation class as penalties for exceeding the current 10-percent limit on delivery imbalances. The PUC explained that costs for storage capacity due to overdeliveries by transportation users should be paid for by the class of customers responsible for such costs.