Fortnightly Magazine - June 15 1995


Summer's coming. Time for a breather, right? I only wish it were so.

Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its electric "giga-NOPR" on transmission access, stranded investment, and Real-time Information Networks (RINs), the heat is on (em and rising. Congress is busy, too. It's working hard on telecommunications, nuclear waste, and privatization of the federal power marketing agencies, but the odds may be growing against repeal of PURPA (the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act) or PUHCA (the Public Utility Holding Company Act.

Regulators Set Policy on Gas Transition Costs

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has announced its policy for the recovery of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 636 pipeline transition charges by natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs).


The board of directors of Yankee Energy System, Inc. has elected Ellen J. Quinn v.p., corporate and environmental planning, and Sarah K. Sanders treasurer for the company. Before joining Yankee Energy, Quinn worked as a scientist at Northeast Utilities, and at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Sanders also came from Northeast Utilities, where she worked as an analyst.

David H.

Illinois and Iowa Propose Greater Opening of LEC Market

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has proposed rules to implement dialing parity for providers of toll telephone services in the state. Under the rules, local exchange carriers (LECs) must offer customers two carrier presubscription choices, one for interMSA (market service area) calls and another for nonlocal intraMSA calls. The ICC rejected a proposal to delay the move to presubscription until LECs are permitted to compete with interexchange long distance carriers (IXCs).

California Moves to Open Local Market

The California PUC on April 26 issued interim rules that could allow local telephone competition in the Pacific Bell and GTE-California service areas as early as June. The rules would manage competition between local carriers (CLCs) and franchised local telcos. Under the rules, CLCs could offer individual service components (such as subscriber loops, line side ports, signaling links, signal transfer points, service control points, and dedicated channel network access connections) or choose to handle the entire phone call.

State Court Overturns Coal-tar Cost-sharing Plan

The Illinois Supreme Court has overturned a ruling by state regulators denying recovery by natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs) of the carrying costs on the unamortized balance of their coal-tar cleanup costs. The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) had ruled that the utilities could recover the costs of statutorily mandated coal-tar cleanup expenses from ratepayers over a five-year amortization period.

Columbia Gas FIles Bankruptcy Plans

The Columbia Gas System, Inc., and its principal pipeline subsidiary, Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. (CGT) have filed separate reorganization plans with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

The parent company's plan proposes total distributions of about $3.6 billion to creditors, including $2.3 billion to pay prepetition debt, with $1.1 billion in interest.

Washington Resolves Pay Phone Price Squeeze

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) has ordered

U S West Communications, Inc., a local exchange carrier (LEC) to reduce the price of "essential monopoly" services it provides its payphone competitors to cure a price squeeze in the public payphone services market. Using an "imputation test," the UTC found that the cost of a local telephone call was greater than the LEC's current levy of $0.25 at its public pay stations.

Texas Court Ruling Opens Door on Tax Cost Recovery

Texas Utilities Electric Co. and Gulf States Utilities are looking to an April 13 Texas Supreme Court decision (involving GTE-Southwest) that says the state PUC need not employ the actual taxes paid method in setting utility rates. Gulf States will now amend its appeal of a March 20 Texas PUC order forcing a $52.9-million rate reduction, which had included a $25.8-million actual taxes paid component. Texas Utilities had put its faith in legislative relief, but saw its hopes dashed in late April when a Texas state senate committee defeated a proposal to take up the matter.

Electric Utility Gas Supplies a Concern in Pennsylvania

To prevent a repeat of the energy emergency experienced in the state in January 1994, the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has ordered electric utilities to negotiate with their power pools, nonutility generators, and supplier utilities outside the state regarding fuel-supply reliability for plant identified as available to meet winter peak. The PUC suggested that the utilities revise rules that allow generation fueled solely by natural gas and delivered under interruptible transportation contracts to count as part of reserve capacity.