Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1995

Cajun Files for Chapter 11

Succumbing to the pressure of its debts, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has halted construction on three nuclear power plants, the only remaining incomplete plants in the nation. According to chairman Craven Crowell, TVA can no longer foot the bill alone. So far, TVA has invested about $4.6 billion in two unfinished units at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Alabama, and $1.7 billion in Watts Bar 2 in Tennessee. TVA estimates it will cost as much as $8.8 billion to finish all three units. (The Bellefonte units are 88 percent and 57 percent complete, respectively.

DSM Bidding Dispute Left to Utility

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) has refused to mediate a dispute between Washington Water Power Co. and a bidder in the utility's 1991-92 resource procurement auction. The bidder, SESCO Inc., complained after the utility found its demand-side management (DSM) program proposal not cost-effective. The UTC said the decision to close the bidding and not pursue a contract with SESCO was a matter for review in the utility's next general rate case.

California Revises "Blue Book" Schedule

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued an interim decision on restructuring the California electric industry (R.94-04-031). The decision calls for the CPUC to propose a policy decision for comment on March 22, 1995, and to adopt a policy decision 60 days later. That policy decision would then become effective in September 1995. To that end, the interim decision establishes a working group to examine how existing social, economic, and environmental programs would hold up under the range of proposed restructuring models.

Arkansas Encourages Wholesale Electric Competition

Citing its desire to promote a fully competitive wholesale market for electric power, the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) has waived restrictions on serving wholesale and retail loads in the state for Entergy Power Inc. Entergy had proposed to sell Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. power wheeled from two generating facilities by Arkansas Power & Light Co. (AP&L), an Entergy affiliate.

Perspective

The meltdown of the Clinton health reform plan suggests a return to competition-that managed care, capitated payment, and regional alliances will assume leading roles in the delivery of health service. But that conclusion may prove premature. Missing from the debate is a discussion of the true costs and implications of these emerging health alliances and health management organizations (HMOs).

Managed care may not offer the expected panacea for containing health costs.

Zoning Change Raises EMF Concerns

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has ruled that the state commission did not err when it refused to reverse a decision by the Town of Portsmouth to rezone certain property from industrial to residential. Newport Electric Corp. had protested that the change could make it liable to EMF damage claims because of overhead power lines in the area.

Tax Corner

Developers of independent power projects in foreign countries often try to set up the local-owner company to qualify as a partnership for U.S. tax purposes, even if the company is a corporation in the eyes of its government. This strategy enables the developer to defer U.S. taxes on his earnings from the project for as long as he is willing to keep the earnings abroad.

Under new IRS guidelines (Revenue Procedure 95-10) issued January 17, 1995, a foreign company qualifying as a partnership must have at least two shareholders.

NC Supreme Court Settles Avoided-cost Dispute

The North Carolina Supreme Court has upheld state regulators' decision to reprice payments made by Virginia Electric and Power Co. (Vepco) to Ultra Cogen Systems, a qualifying facility (QF), for power purchased under avoided-cost contracts approved by Virginia's commission. The North Carolina Utilities Commission (UC) had disallowed $1.39 million in capacity costs while setting rates for the utility's Carolina Power division.

Power Marketers Flex at FERC

Electric utilities beware. Power marketers are not only here to stay, but their ranks are growing. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) logged approximately 100 applications in 1994, compared to nine in 1993. About half have been acted on already.

The fledgling industry is also staking out its regulatory territory. Notably, on December 14, the FERC ordered the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to provide nonfirm transmission service to AES Power Inc.

Illinois Rejects Monetization of Externatilies

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has reaffirmed earlier rulings that the state's least-cost planning laws must require consideration of the adverse external environmental costs of providing utility service. However, it rejected proposed new rules that would require monetization of the externalities based on projected costs of complying with future environmental regulations.
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