Gas Retail Rate Design. In a move toward equalizing rates of return between customer classes, the Oregon PUC authorized Northwest Natural Gas Co. to increase base rates by nearly $246,000, at the same time boosting residential rates by 1.3 percent but lowering rates for large commercial and industrial users. It set return on equity at 10.25 percent, finding the rate "consistent with the downward trend of ROEs authorized by other regulatory commissions." Order No. 99-697, Nov. 12, 1999 (Ore.P.U.C.).
A retiree from Kansas writes the FERC to ask why it lets utilities "punish" their customers.
When senior citizens with time on their hands start taking an interest in utility regulation, you just know that's big trouble for bureaucrats. Ask James Hoecker, chairman of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Last month Hoecker opened his email box to find a short message from one Hersch Davis, a retiree from Wichita, Kan. Davis wrote the chairman on Sept.
Robert W. Shaw JR. IS A BETTING MAN. Shaw's Aretê Corp. venture capital fund has invested $100 million in energy technology. This year the Center Harbor, N.H., fund set aside $30 million to invest in micro-generation technologies. Already the fund has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into more than a half-dozen companies trying to develop microturbines, fuel cells and other promising small-scale generation.
"This is a hot corner," Shaw says.
Shaw bucks naysayers like Ralph Selvig of VentureOne Corp., a San Francisco firm that tracks the venture capital industry.
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.
PG&E Corp. promoted G. Brent Stanley to senior vice president of human resources and Greg S. Pruett to vice president of corporate communications.
CalEnergy Co. Inc. announced that J. Douglas Divine will serve as vice president of project development for CalEnergy Americas. Divine will be responsible for managing the business development activities throughout the Americas Region.
James M. Stephens was named president of Providence-Southern LLC. Prior to joining Providence-Southern, Stephens was assistant vice president of Reed Consulting Group. Stephens replaces Caroline K.
POWER PLANT SALE. Central Maine Power Co. has agreed to
sell its hydroelectric, fossil and biomass power plants totaling 1,185-MW of generating capacity to FPL Group, the holding company of Florida Power and Light. The sale price of $846 million exceeds book value and could permit up to a 10-percent rate cut for customers by the end of the year.
OHIO/TEXAS DEAL. Ohio-based American Electric Power
Co. and Texas-based Central and South West Corp. on Dec.
THE RECENT INCREASE IN MERGER ACTIVITY IN THE energy and telecommunications industries has concerned state regulators for some time. Such concern reveals how the practical or "local" aspects of business deals often clash with broader national issues reviewed by federal authorities in merger cases.
In electric utility mergers, for instance, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will address effects on competition, rates and regulation.
Potomac Electric Power Co. says merger delays are costing it money and it's asking the Maryland Public Service Commission to approve a rate increase.
PEPCO says savings achieved from its proposed merger with Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. would have absorbed the increased costs. The merger would form Constellation Energy.
The rate increase would be only for the utility's Maryland customers.
The chief executive officers of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and Potomac Electric Power Co. have expressed disappointment over a July 28 decision by a Baltimore County judge denying a motion to return their proposed merger case to the Maryland Public Service Commission.
The judge's decision will keep the merger proceeding before the Baltimore County Circuit Court.
"As we previously stated and made very clear to the court, we cannot merge in accordance with the terms of the current PSC order," said BGE Chair Christian Poindexter and PEPCO Chair Edward F. Mitchell.