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Industry News

WPS Seeks Input on Separate Generation Company

LCG, Oct. 18, 2000The parent holding company for Wisconsin Public Service Co. said yesterday it has taken to the stump to win support for a plan to transfer the utility's power plants into a new, unregulated subsidiary.

WPS Resources Corp. said its officials are talking to consumer groups, legislators, other energy companies, and municipal and cooperative electric companies prior to filing the proposal with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, which it expects to do in early November. The proposal could require some legislative changes, the company said.

Larry Weyers, WPS chairman and chief executive, said the company wants to know what others think of the plan "so we can fine tune or clarify the proposal before we file it."

The proposal calls for Wisconsin Public Service to transfer its wholly owned generating assets to an unregulated subsidiary which would then sell the electricity to the regulated utility for resale to customers. The utility would dispatch the plants as if it owned them, choosing to use the power or not depending on the utility's needs and its options for lower-cost alternative power.

The subsidiary would be obligated to provide the utility with power at set prices which reflect the current levels approved by Wisconsin regulators, the company said.

"We think it's a good first step toward the inevitable restructuring of the electric industry inWisconsin," Weyers said. "We don't want to get into a situation like California, where the state wasintroduced to retail competition before the market was ready."

When WPS first broached the idea in July, the plan had its critics, which is why Weyers wants to get public reaction before submitting the proposal to regulators. "They (the critics) seemed intent on jumping to the worst possible case whenever they could," he said. "That's not what we want. And that's not what they want. We think the proposal has good ideas that, if discussed and reviewed openly and honestly, might be improved upon."

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