Last year was pivotal for nuclear power. On May 13, 1994, the board of directors of the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) voted 9-4 to terminate reactors WNP-1 and WNP-3, triggering a dismantling of the two mothballed reactors, both about 70 percent complete. For ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest, the decision offered no relief from bills for construction of the two plants (em recently estimated at about $350 million per year for the next 24 years1. In many ways, WPPSS and its troubled history is a microcosm of the U.S.
Up until now, cost-of-service ratemaking has provided relatively stable rates, while enabling utilities to attract enormous amounts of capital. Of late, however, regulators appear to be heeding the argument that changing markets warrant a second look.
The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) will allow MFS Intelenet of Michigan to compete with Ameritech Michigan in the Detroit and Ann Arbor area exchanges. The PSC said state telecommunications law supports competition and that the applicant was qualified to enter the business. It rejected claims that the certificate should be denied due to concerns over possible cross-subsidization between the applicant and its holding company, MFS Communications Co. According to the PSC, consumers were well protected from such abuses under existing regulations.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has approved a series of charges levied by local exchange carriers (LECs) under their agreement with the state government to operate the North Carolina Information Highway (NCIH). The NCIH is a broadband network that
uses fiber-optic cable and advanced switching and transmission equipment to provide data, video, and imaging communications to sites throughout the state. The technology is not yet generally deployed in the public telephone network.
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.
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).
John Huey (Fortune, Feb. 21, 1994) suggests that some corporate leaders resemble candidates running for office. Cynically, this conjures an image of the slick campaigner (em a blue suit, a thick head of hair, makeup artists, acting class, and speech coaches. Yet, Mr. Huey raises an issue that cannot be ignored. How can public utilities learn to communicate better?
I've worked as a communications director at a major investor-owned electric company.
Imagine you're the principal energy buyer for a national chain of managed health care centers, with a $200-million annual energy tab. Top management asks you to assess how the chain can cut its energy bills.
You turn to your local electric and gas utility, which talks a lot about customer service, but doesn't have much to show for it yet.
Richard J. Grossi, chairman and CEO of United Illuminating Co., has been elected chairman of the North American Reliability Council. Grossi will serve a two-year term.
Thomas L. Fisher, president and CEO of Northern Illinois Gas Co. has been elected chairman of the Gas Research Institute's board of directors. Fisher will serve a one-year term, along with newly elected vice chairman, John F. Riordan, president and CEO of MidCon Corp.
Chairman Thomas G.
Tilting Toward Telephony: How Electric and Gas Companies Can Leverage Their Systems for a Changing Market
The structure of the utility and telecommunications industries has changed significantly since I began my role as a regulator 15 years ago. Technological developments and a competitive environment, as opposed to regulation, have provided the major catalyst for change. As a result, utility companies, which have historically enjoyed the favor of Wall Street investors, will soon face unprecedented revenue growth problems.