either through the legislature, the utility commission, informal working groups, or some combination of these (em to consider issues such as retail wheeling, unbundled utility structures, and alternative rate regulation.1 California's "Blue Book" hearings have drawn the most attention, but significant efforts are also underway elsewhere. Although each state is approaching the issue in its own way, successful industry restructuring will ultimately require coordination across state lines.
Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has granted preliminary approval to a water utility's proposal to "project finance" the cost of a new treatment facility required to comply with federal and state laws. The utility, Massachusetts-American Water Co., had proposed forming a special purpose corporation solely to finance the plant. The new corporation would lease the facility to the utility, using the payments to repay tax-exempt bonds issued under the financing plan.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has completed a long-awaited rate plan for New England Telephone and Telegraph Co. (dba NYNEX), adopting price-cap regulation without earnings sharing, but with strong measures to protect ratepayers from monopoly pricing, investment risk, and subsidies of utility ventures. The plan also includes price floors and separates competitive and monopoly services for pricing purposes. The DPU also approved a rate freeze for basic residential service until 2001, but rejected a claim that rates should fall during that time.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has decided to phase-out existing demand-side management (DSM) incentives for the state's natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs). It said that any claims by LDCs for future recovery of lost margins and incentives will be examined in light of changes in the gas industry and the DSM marketplace. It added that the LDCs should propose a phase-out of their lost margin and DSM incentive programs in conjunction with proposals for incentive-based ratemaking or in their future DSM cases. Re Boston Gas Co., D.P.U. 94-15, Apr.
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.
Massachusetts Gov. William Weld and Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci have filed a proposal with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) that would require all Massachusetts electric utilities to develop deregulation plans by the end of 1995.
In the proposal, the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources (DOER) asks the DPU to issue a June 16 restructuring timetable that schedules a final order around August 1.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has rejected challenges to an alternative price regulation plan proposed by NYNEX, a local exchange carrier (LEC). The New England Cable Television Association, Inc. had claimed that the DPU lacked authority to adopt a rate plan not tied directly to cost of service.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), electric generation is no longer best organized as a monopoly. This conclusion has led the DPU to open an inquiry to investigate: 1) how restructuring the electric industry in the state would promote competition and benefit customers, and 2) whether to extend to some or all customers the option of choosing their own supplier of electricity. Re Electric Industry Restructuring, D.P.U. 95-30, Feb. 10, 1995 (Mass.D.P.U.).