On April 4, less than two months after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was enacted, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted the first application allowing a public utility holding company, CSW Communications, Inc., to enter telecommunications markets (FCC 96-152). CSW is now an "exempt telecommunications company." The FCC noted that the entrance of utility companies as new competitors could result in lower prices and wider choices for consumers.
The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has decided to review its experimental "Open Market Plan" to introduce competition to the local telephone market in the Rochester, NY area.
The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has begun formal action against U S WEST Communications, Inc., alleging noncompliance with service-quality standards. The PUC will decide whether to continue, modify, or terminate its regulatory agreement with that company. Staff have recommended that the PUC terminate alternative regulation for U S WEST.
PUC staff first found the company out of compliance with standards in 1994. Although the situation stabilized for a few months, network performance has deteriorated.
Investors are taking stock
of utility exposure to price competition.The utility trade press and even the general financial press have featured the views of regulators, utility executives, legislators, and various consumer advocates on the stranded-cost question. Stranded costs easily represent the most contentious issue facing the electric industry as it moves to an era of competition.
The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) has authorized AT&T Communications of Maryland, Inc. to compete with local exchange telephone carriers (LECs) throughout the state as a "co-carrier and reseller." According to the PSC, AT&T plans to enter the LEC market as a reseller, expanding over time to offer a full range of facilities-based services.
By separate order, the PSC opened a new proceeding to set wholesale prices for the components of local exchange services.
The Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled that the state Public Service Commission (PSC) acted outside of its authority when, in 1994, it directed U S WEST Communications, Inc., to sell a local telephone exchange to an unsuccessful bidder rather than to another company with whom the LEC had already contracted for the sale.
Earlier, the PSC had required upgrades in rural exchanges throughout the state, and had endorsed a plan to sell certain local exchanges to independent telephone companies in the public interest.
According to the Arizona Court of Appeals, the state Corporation Commission has violated an agreement with U S WEST Communications, Inc., governing the spinoff of the company's Yellow Pages publishing business as an unregulated enterprise.
The court agreed with U S WEST that the commission erred when it imputed $60.684 million in directory publishing profits to the carrier's regulated operations (em a move that had captured all profits earned by the publishing company above the rate of return of 11.4 percent authorized for regulated services.
The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) has authorized three new telecommunications companies to provide local exchange service in competition with existing carriers U S WEST Communications, Inc. and GTE Northwest, Inc.
CSW Communications, Inc., a subsidiary of Central and South West Corp., has become the first company to file at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to become an "exempt telecommunications company" under the telecommunications reform legislation signed into law by President Clinton. Previously, CSW was barred from entering the telecommunications market by the Public Utility Holding Company Act.
State utility commissioners have gone on record asking Congress to "call them first" before it legislatively restructures the electric industry.
That resolution prompted some of the liveliest debate at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners' (NARUC) Winter Committee meetings. About 1,000 people attended the 10-day event in Washington, DC, February 21 to March 1.