A 10-year wholesale power contract between Wisconsin Electric Power Co. (WEP) and the City of Geneva, IL, is raising eyebrows in Wisconsin. The result of competitive bidding, the contract sets rates some 20 percent below what the city paid WEP under a 1985 contract. WEP will pay $1 million to Geneva for an electric substation.
Wisconsin Public Service
As I began to write this column, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was slated in less than 30 minutes (this time, for real) to unveil its final proposed plan to restructure the electric utility industry. After the deed was done, on Wednesday, December 20, I logged on to ftp.cpuc.ca.gov and downloaded the text of the two opinions, issued by California commissioners Daniel Fessler and Jessie Knight.
Merger Menace: Holding Companies and Overcapitalization
States remain as powerless to control holding companies as they were
in 1935, when PUHCA was passed.
During the 1970s and 1980s, diversification swept the gas and electric utility industries. One byproduct of this craze was the formation of a large number of new public utility holding companies, exempt not only from regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but from state regulation over security issues.
Change was the operative word this year in New Orleans at the annual gathering the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Bob Anderson, Montana commissioner and outgoing president of NARUC, cited global competitiveness, technology and a political swing toward state's rights in his opening address. "State commissions have to respond to these powerful forces," he warned.
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) has drafted a 425-page (plus appendices) environmental impact statement (EIS) as part of its investigation into restructuring (Docket No. 05-EI-114). The EIS examines a number of different proposed models. The "status quo" model would maintain the present regulatory structure, but the PSC admitted that the present rate case structure is time-consuming and does not respond quickly to changed circumstances.
The "plausible extreme" model proposes a single transmission system owner.
Thomas L. Yohe of Philadelphia Suburban Water Co. was appointed to the Cleanup Standards Scientific Advisory Board. The 13-member board is a new division of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection.
NorAm Energy Corp. has formed a new unregulated retail subsidiary, NorAm Energy Management (NEM), and appointed Rollie Bohall senior v.p. and COO. David Houghtby, formerly of Minnegasco, will be NEM v.p.
On Saturday, November 11, WPL Holdings, Inc. announced its three-way merger with IES Industries Inc. and Interstate Power Co. to form Interstate Energy. The very next day, in a full-page ad that ran in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Madison Gas & Electric Co. launched its counteroffensive, featuring Boris the Pig.
"Hi (em I'm Big Boris," the ad begins. (The face of a handsome pig with a large snout stares back at the reader.) "My friends and I crave Radical Electric Deregulation.
State regulators continue to update methods of pricing telecommunications services, using price caps for local exchange carriers (LECs) while expanding existing pricing flexibility for interexchange carriers (IXCs). The emerging trend toward inviting competitors to serve the local market, including basic local exchange service, also continues. Some of the activity mirrors ongoing developments at the federal level, such as major regulatory reforms under debate in the Congress and court-supervised modifications to existing service restrictions stemming from the AT&T divestiture.
MidCon Corp. named Dennis M. Lawler power marketing v.p. in its MidCon Power Services Corp. unit. Lawler comes from Consolidated Natural Gas Co.
In a promotion, Mark Kugelman will manage account sales for Parker Hannifin Corp.'s Power Distribution Group.
The American Gas Association (A.G.A.) elected chairmen for its financial and administrative, operating, marketing and legal sections: Bruce R. Debolt, senior v.p. and CFO of Northwest Natural Gas Co.; Frederick L.
While permitting Northern States Power Co. to build a new transmission line and associated facilities, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) has ordered the utility to provide electromagnetic field (EMF) measurements along the line before and after the project is constructed. The PSC also ruled, however, that evidence in the case did not demonstrate whether "fear of EMF" would significantly affect property values adjacent to the transmission line right of way. Re Northern States Power Co., No. 4220-CE-143, Aug. 15, 1995 (Wis.P.S.C.).