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Industry News

Regulators Slate Hearings on Dereg Rules

LCG, Aug. 22, 2000--West Virginia utility regulators have issued proposed rules for electric industry restructuring, electric service providers and retail electric service and are soliciting public comment, according to a Public Service Commission news release.

The proposed rules modify existing regulations and add significant new sections, the PSC said. Public comments will be accepted until October 10 and hearings will be held on October 26 and 27. The commission expects to issue final rules by the end of the year.

The PSC proposal includes four new sections, one of which establishes a code of conduct to govern the interaction between regulated utilities and their non-regulated affiliates.

A new consumer protection section proposes rules that apply to competitive electric service providers in their dealings with customers. Requirements for truth in advertising, disclosure of power supply details, billing and collection standards, transferring customers from one supplier to another and other consumer concerns are covered.

A third new section established emergency service procedures that would apply if a competitive electric service provider failed to deliver sufficient power to meet its customers requirements.

Systems benefits issues are covered in a fourth new section under which a fund would be established to provide low-income financial assistance and weatherization assistance.

Billy Jack Gregg, director of the PSC consumer advocate division, said "These rules represent a broad consensus of all the groups involved in electric restructuring." American Electric Power Co. and Allegheny Power Co. said they had not yet studied the rules.

After the West Virginia Legislature massages the state tax code to conform to a deregulated electric industry, the new rules could be put into effect, probably between July 1 and the end of September next year, according to Gregg.

"The beauty of the plan is that those who want to shop can do so on the first day that it is open, and those who dont want to be bothered with it dont. They can sit back and relax," Gregg said.

There will be plenty of time for relaxation. Under restructuring legislation enacted earlier this year, full deregulation will not go into effect until 2014 or 2015.

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