State PUCs Show Split Personality
While electric restructuring pauses, telecom pushes forward.
No matter which way they turn, state public utility commissions (PUCs) have their work cut out for them.
While federal policy-makers push ahead with wholesale market reforms in the electricity sector, many at the state level now call for a cautious approach to protect consumers.
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.
Carmen Ana Cintron was named an administrative law judge at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Cintron previously served as Hearing Office chief administrative law judge in the Office of Hearings and Appeals of the Social Security Administration in Chamblee, Ga.
Unicom Corp. appointed Elizabeth Anne "Betsy" Moler senior vice president for federal government affairs. Moler, an attorney in private practice in Washington, D.C., is a former FERC chair. Upon completion of Unicom's merger with PECO Energy, she will head the combined company's Washington office.
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.
News Digest was compiled by Carl J. Levesque, editorial assistant, Lori A. Burkhart, contributing legal editor, and Bruce W. Radford, editor. For continual news updates, see www.pur.com.Nuclear Power
Transmission & ISOs
Transco Independence. Granting Entergy's request for a declaratory order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled in a case of first impression that a stand-alone transmission company ("transco") would meet the test in Order 888 for independent system operators despite passive ownership by a power producer or other market participant.
Distributed Generation. California opened a rulemaking proceeding to consider regulatory reforms in electricity distribution service, with a possible focus on distributed generation. The commission emphasized that its intent was not to define new policies, but to gather information. Comments are due March 17, and the commission intends to consider a proposal from the assigned commissioner this summer. Rulemaking 98-12-015, Dec. 17, 1998 (Calif. P.U.C.).
Gas Transportation Rates.
THE ROAD TO RETAIL COMPETITION IS A LONG ONE. HAVING realized that, utility management has quelled its initial panic and has begun to concentrate on longer-term objectives. For instance, how much market share am I likely to lose during competition's early stages? And what prices can I charge to various customer classes without incurring a loss in market share?
The answer could affect decisions about future load, asset divestiture and competitive strategies.
TELCO UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND. Reversing an appeals court, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Kansas Corporation Commission that had required wireless telecommunications carriers to contribute to the state's universal service fund. It also affirmed a KCC ruling setting the initial amount of the fund in a roundabout way based on equalizing inter- and intrastate long-distance rates.
The KCC order (issued Dec. 27, 1996) had slashed intrastate toll rates by $111 million over three years. It then cut access charges by an equal amount to offset the loss to toll carriers.