Maine Public Utilities Commission

PUC Uphelds Selective Rate Discounting

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has declined as a general policy to require electric utilities that award a rate discount to an individual customer to offer the same discount to the customer's competitors.

The case involved Central Maine Power Co., which had negotiated a discount with Southern Container Corp. under its alternative rate plan. Union Camp Corp., a competitor in the corrugated box business, had then asked for a comparable discount, complaining of discrimination.

Maine Tightens Ex Parte Rules

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved amendments to existing rules governing ex parte and other communications designed to influence the decisionmaking process in adjudicatory proceedings.

It found the changes necessary after representatives of New England Telephone and Telegraph Co. dba NYNEX, a local exchange carrier (LEC) regulated by the PUC, were reported engaged in lobbying activities.

LDC Acts to Retain Large Customers

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has authorized Northern Utilities Co., a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), to offer a special rate to extra-large firm sales customers. The new offering is designed to enable large customers with flat loads to obtain gas service at a rate that better reflects the lower nongas cost of service for such customers. Unusually large customers

wishing to take service under the new rate must demonstrate that their load is largely flat and, thus, maximizes the nongas costs of serving their needs.

Will Residential Customers Pay for Competition?

High industrial electricity rates are often blamed upon current regulation. Some state regulators respond with broad-based reforms; others simply reallocate system costs from industrial rate classes to rates for more inelastic customers (em namely, residential users.

Price Caps and Competition Conspire Against DSM

Changing market conditions and newly instituted price-cap regulation give electric utilities a greater disincentive for demand-side management (DSM), according to the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC). While approving a 1996 DSM savings target of 36 million kilowatt-hours (Kwh) for Central Maine Power Co. under the utility's new price-cap plan (see Re Central Maine Power Co., 159 PUR4th 209 (Me.P.U.C.

Maine Approves Electricity Price Hedging

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has authorized Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. to enter into oil price-swap and price-cap transactions. The utility said that the since the PUC had eliminated its fuel adjustment clause in an earlier proceeding, it had sought ways to reduce the risk associated with fuel price changes. The oil "price hedges," seek to set Bangor's future cost of oil by requiring the parties to pay a settlement amount if the actual price, as published by a well-recognized source, should vary from the price contained in the agreement.

Maine Monitors Electric Telecom Ventures

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a settlement agreement governing restrictions on telecommunications ventures by Central Maine Power Co. Under the agreement, the utility must get PUC approval to enter the telecommunications market through a subsidiary except in the Northeast states and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Qu‚bec. In contrast to rules exempting smaller electric ventures from certain filing requirements, the utility must file a project application for all telecommunications ventures, no matter how small.

Maine PUC Hikes Electric Price Cap

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a 2.43 percent rate increase in the price cap for Central Maine Power Co. (CMP). It also issued findings governing the flow-through to ratepayers of savings earned by restructuring contracts with qualifying cogeneration facilities (QFs).

Maine Approves LEC Price-cap Plan

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a regulatory reform plan for New England Telephone and Telegraph Co., a telephone local exchange carrier (LEC). The plan includes a price cap program for "core" services (em that is, nondiscretionary services such as basic exchange and toll services. The price-cap structure and pricing rules will not apply to the LEC's noncore services.

Performance-based Ratemaking

Performance-based ratemaking (PBR) departs from the cost-of-service standard in setting just and reasonable utility rates, but that departure isn't as easy as it looks.

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.