Business & Money
Sizable gains return to the market.
With an average appreciation of 18.9 percent since we last ran SNL Financial's dividend data , SNL's safe dividend picks appeared to do well for any market. However, like the fine golden years of the late '90s for all things technology, recent months have returned sizable gains to investors of energy stocks-not what one would expect from slow growth, dividend-paying electric and gas utilities that make up the majority of the SNL Energy universe.
Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson appointed three new members to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board for two-year terms. J. Brian Atwood is the executive vice president of Citizens Energy Corp. and director of Citizens International. Daphne Kwok is the executive director of the Organization of Chinese Americans Inc. Burton Richter is the Paul Pigott Professor of Physical Sciences at Stanford University and director emeritus of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.
Do not mistake the FERC's professed neutrality on what works best for regional transmission organizations.
In its final rule on regional transmission organizations, known as Order 2000,[Fn.1] the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it would not dictate to the electric utility industry whether and how to form RTOs. Don't be misled. The FERC claims to be agnostic,[Fn.2] but it still has a vision. And that vision leads inexorably to one conclusion. The preferred form for an RTO is the independent system operator, or ISO.
T+D Investment Risk. The Maine PUC appeared to take a pro-consumer stance in setting principles it will use to set a revenue requirement for transmission and distribution (T&D) services provided by Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. after the company becomes a wires-only utility on March 1. The PUC downplayed the risk of wires operations, adopting a return on equity of 11 percent and disallowing about $3.5 million of some $71 million in claimed T&D costs.
Gas Retail Rate Design. In a move toward equalizing rates of return between customer classes, the Oregon PUC authorized Northwest Natural Gas Co. to increase base rates by nearly $246,000, at the same time boosting residential rates by 1.3 percent but lowering rates for large commercial and industrial users. It set return on equity at 10.25 percent, finding the rate "consistent with the downward trend of ROEs authorized by other regulatory commissions." Order No. 99-697, Nov. 12, 1999 (Ore.P.U.C.).
Mergers & Acquisitions
Joint Ventures. The Federal Trade Commission, in consultation with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, issued draft antitrust guidelines for "collaborations among competitors" that will apply to a wide range of joint ventures and strategic alliances other than actual mergers.
Such collaborations would include R&D efforts, information sharing and joint efforts in marketing, distribution, sales or purchasing, plus various types of trade association activities. File No. 971201, Oct. 1, 1999 (F.T.C.), published at 64 Fed. Reg.
Cinergy Corp. named Sherrie N. Rutherford vice president of special projects for Cinergy Services Inc. Rutherford formerly served as vice president and general counsel for the pipeline group and trading operations, and associate general counsel for Reliant Energy Wholesale Group.
Philip R. Sharp, a former Indiana Congressman, will serve as advisor on consumer choice and energy deregulation at Columbia Energy Group. Sharp is a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a member of the U.S. Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board.
Mergers & Acquisitions
CP&L + Florida Progress. Carolina Power & Light announced Aug. 23 that it would purchase Florida Progress Corp. for $5.3 billion in a combination that would create the nation's ninth-largest utility in terms of generating capacity, with $6.7 billion in annual revenues and 2.5 million customers in three states. CP&L would pay a premium (between 16.5 percent and 21 percent) over the pre-announcement share price of FP stock.
Gas Capacity Rights. The New York PSC told retail suppliers that to serve firm retail gas load they must have rights to firm, non-recallable, primary delivery point pipeline capacity for the five winter months, November through March, or else must augment secondary capacity with a standby charge payable to local distribution companies holding primary rights.