William J. Froehlich has been appointed director of the re-established Office of Administrative Litigation at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Froehlich has been an attorney with FERC since 1975. As the head of the office, Froehlich will report directly to FERC Chairman Pat Wood III and the commissioners.
By Lori A. Burkhart
Gas-fired power is king today, but fuel diversity needs and new technologies may open the door for nuclear and coal.
The nation's demand for electricity is expected to grow by over 40 percent in the next 20 years, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Meeting that need will require a great number of new generating plants. The burning question is, what will fuel these new plants?
Battle of Dunkirk
Utilities rush to save their last tenuous hold over the power plants they so smugly sold off.
Retail Energy Choice. At press time, Virginia issued proposed interim rules governing pilot programs for electric retail competition in electricity and natural gas, with comments due Feb. 24. The interim rules were not expected to resolve all issues, but only to provide a starting point to gain experience.
Among other points, the interim rules would require utilities to make information available through electronic bulletin boards on availability of commodity supply, ancillary services, and transmission and distribution capacity. Case No.
Mergers & Acquisitions
NSP + New Century. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission OK'd the merger of Northern States Power Co. (NSP) and New Century Energies Inc. (NCE), to form Xcel Energy Inc., on condition that the new company would join the Midwest Independent System Operator. FERC Docket No. EC99-101- 000, Jan. 12, 2000, 90 FERC ¶61,020.
* Rate Pancaking. The FERC found no problem with transmission rate pancaking with the MISO condition, even though NCE subsidiary Southwestern Public Service Co. (SPS) belongs to the rival Southwest Power Pool.
TELEPHONE BILLING PRACTICES. Citing the filed-rate doctrine, which bars deviation from published tariffs, a federal appeals court affirmed the dismissal of two class action suits against AT&T Corp. that sought damages for alleged fraud. The suite arose from AT&T's failure to disclose to its residential long-distance telecommunications customers its practice of rounding charges up to the higher full minute.
THE POWER PLANTS OF AT LEAST FIVE UTILITIES IN NEW England and California get swapped this year for more than $5.3 billion. And happily, those holding bonds on the plants will be given cash for their coupons.
These utilities (see sidebar, "Going Once, Going Twice¼ Sold!") can expect their credit ratings to remain firm or even jump (em although that's debated by analysts. Such improved ratings may surprise market observers led to believe that loss of utility collateral would hurt investment grades.
Ralph R. Mabey, trustee in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings of Cajun Electric Power Co-op., has entered into an amended asset-purchase agreement with Louisiana Generating LLC for the purchase of Cajun's nonnuclear assets. Louisiana Generating LLC is the joint-venture affiliate of NRG Energy, Inc. and Zeigler Coal Holding Co.
The NRG/Zeigler bid was selected in April, but on July 15, the bankruptcy court rejected the plan's buyer-protection provisions.
Ralph Mabey, trustee for Cajun Electric Power Co-op. in its bankruptcy proceeding, has filed a reorganization plan at the Federal District Court in Baton Rouge, LA. Mabey chose a bid from NRG Energy, Inc. and Zeigler Coal Holding Co.: about $1.1 billion in cash to purchase most of Cajun's nonnuclear assets. However, that offer faces a competing bid filed by the Cajun Electric Members Committee, Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SEP), and Gulf States Utilities.
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.