In April, Texas Utilities announced that it would buy ENSERCH, Western Resources launched a hostile takeover bid for Kansas City Power & Light, and The Southern Co. initiated its ultimately futile bid for the United Kingdom's National Power. Eight other pending mergers involving major electric utilities have been announced during the last year. Utility managements clearly believe their future success requires merging with other utilities.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved Portland General Electric Co.'s (PGE's) decommissioning plan for the Trojan nuclear power plant. The Trojan plant, which began operating in 1975, was permanently shut down in January 1993. PGE filed its decommissioning plan in January 1995, proposing to move the spent fuel to onsite dry cask storage, dismantle radioactive structures, and decontaminate the site for unrestricted use (except for the dry-cask storage area). t
Lori A. Burkhart is an associate legal editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.
The Nuclear Energy Institute reports that nuclear power plants are exceeding performance goals for safety and reliability. In 1995, the U.S. nuclear industry:
s Achieved the highest capability factor ever: a median value of 82.6 percent. (Unit capability is a percentage of the most electricity a plant can produce, limited by plant management.)
s Reduced unplanned automatic shutdowns or scrams by almost 90 percent since 1980.
s Met safety performance in 94 percent of the systems.
The U.S. Department of Energy will make $15 million in grants available to those willing to buy early versions of market-ready fuel cells. DOE will provide $1,000 per kilowatt, or up to a third of costs. Assistance will target buyers that want to purchase between 100 and 3,000 kilowatts. The first round of awards will be made by September 30. The application package is available on the Internet at http:/www.metc.doe.gov/business/ solicita.html. A diskette version (WordPerfect 5.2) may be requested by fax: (304) 285-4683, attn: R. Diane Manilla, M.S.
U.S. utilities find
a wealth of opportunity
It drew more than $7 billion in investment from U.S. electric utility subsidiaries at the end of 1995. Ongoing privatization will likely draw billions more.
Five electric distribution companies and a generating company have been sold in Australia's southeastern State of Victoria, and four more generating companies are expected to go on the block.
Tennessee law permitting new competition in the local-exchange telephone market clearly protects the state's small incumbent local carriers (LECs with fewer than 100,000 access lines) from market entry by competitive carriers, according to the state public service commission (PSC), unless the incumbent voluntarily elects competition either by executing an interconnection agreement with a local competitor, or by applying for a certificate to provide service outside its franchised service area.
Separate certificate hearings for new market entrants would be inefficient and w
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering revising its regulations on nuclear plant decommissioning funding. Under current NRC regulations, adopted in 1988, an electric utility may set aside decommissioning funds annually over the estimated life of a plant. In a deregulated environment, however, a nuclear power licensee could lose its regulated rate base as a source to fund the balance of decommissioning expenses.
Texas-New Mexico Power Co. (TNMP) has asked the Texas Public Utility Commission to approve "Community Choice," which would allow state customers to choose their energy providers beginning in January 1997. After a five-year transition period, customers would be permitted to choose both their electric and energy services providers. During the transition, TNMP would be allowed to reduce the stranded costs of its only generating plant, TNMP One, by keeping rates, including fuel and purchased-power costs, at current levels.
ManagementDeregulation isn't just for utilities anymore.
This year, PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY'S
annual Electric Executive's Forum recognizes
the growing constituency of the electric