Wisconsin Public Service



The city of Pittsburgh has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Allegheny Power Systems Inc., and Duquesne Light Co., to stop the merger proposed by the two companies.

In its Sept. 29 court filing, Pittsburgh claimed the two utilities acted jointly to restrain trade. The city said the companies did this by agreeing to maintain higher rates for electric retail service at two industrial sites targeted for redevelopment zones pending their merger.

Renewable Subsidies in the Age of Deregulation


energy in a restructured electricity market?

Renewable resource funding marks a major point of contention in utility deregulation. Environmental groups fear that without some form of compulsion or subsidy, or both, renewable resources will not survive in an energy economy based on least direct consumer cost. However, utilities do not want to be saddled alone with the chore of carrying all renewables to market.

Wisconsin Combo Called a "Natural Outcome"

WPS Resources Corp. and Upper Peninsula Energy Corp., which have a history of working together on power sales and emergency dispatch, are merging.

WPS Resources Corp.'s main subsidiary, Wisconsin Public Service Corp., is an electric and gas utility serving 400,000 customers. Upper Peninsula Energy Corp.'s main subsidiary, Upper Peninsula Power Co., has 48,000 electric customers.

The acquisition is structured as a stock swap valued at $71.4 million. Holders of Upper Peninsula common stock will receive 0.90 shares of WPS stock for each share held.

Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co.

FERC ALJ Approves Three-Way Combo

An administrative law judge at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has recommended approval of the proposed three-way merger of WPL Holdings, IES Industries, and Interstate Power Co. to form Interstate Energy Corp.

Earlier this year, the companies and the FERC staff reached an agreement on market power mitigation. One stipulation was that the utilities had to contract for purchase of transmission capacity to interconnect the three utility systems. A portion of that capacity would be made available to other utilities on a first-come basis.


Edison International elected former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher to its board and its utility company's board, Southern California Edison. Christopher was elected chair of the executive committees of both boards. Howard P. Allen retired as chair and CEO.

John T. Coughlin, former Wisconsin Public Service commissioner, was elected chair of the PJM Interconnection L.L.C.

Former U.S. Department of State Legal Adviser Conrad K. Harper was elected to the board of both Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., and Public Service Electric and Gas Co.

Power Shortages Loom With Shutdowns

Midwest and New England Are Threatened

To head off potential problems, states in the Midwest and New England are reacting now to impending plant shutdowns, which are threatening to cause serious electric supply shortfalls this summer.

The Midwest. The shutdown of Wisconsin's two nuclear plants, Kewaunee and Point Beach, is predicted to cause the state's worst power shortage. In addition, up to five coal-fired plants were scheduled for maintenance shutdowns. To deal with the anticipated shortage, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission on April 22 adopted an emergency plan.

Competitive Efficiency: A Ranking of U.S. Electric Utilities

Do mergers and "critical mass" really make a difference? The answer, it seems, is yes.

To become more competitive, U.S. electric utilities have embarked on a quest in recent years to improve operational efficiency and factor productivity. The question is: Are utilities making progress? And, which companies have gained a competitive edge? Which have not?

Industry analysts have long argued that given the structure of the markets they serve and their cost-based, rate-setting procedures, electric utilities tend toward monopolistic behavior.

Minn. PUC Delays Primergy Vote

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has said it will postpone a decision for two months on whether to approve the proposed merger of Northern States Power Co. and Wisconsin Energy Corp. to form "Primergy."

The PUC may not decide the matter until as late as August. A sunset clause kicks in just three months after that time, which would allow the utilities to back out of the deal.

Energy Market Structure Issues Dominate Wisconsin Rate Cases

In a series of rulings regarding Wisconsin Electric Power Co.,

the Wisconsin Public Service Commission has directed the

utility to reduce electric charges and natural gas service rates.

In a similar ruling, the commission also has authorized Wisconsin Public Service Corp. to boost rates for natural gas, while trimming rates for electric service.

Wisconsin Electric. The commission ordered Wisconsin Electric to cut electric rates by $7.383 million. Rate of return on common equity was set at 10.8 percent.

Kewaunee Nuclear Plant Is In Trouble

Due to troubles at the Kewaunee nuclear power plant, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission has agreed to allow its three utility owners to accelerate depreciation based on a plant retirement in 2002 instead of 2013. It also agreed to shorten the length of time decommissioning funds can be set aside.

The plant had shut down Sept. 20, 1996, for routine repairs and was expected to open one month later when damage to steam generators was found to be greater than expected. Replacing them would cost about $100 million.