Restructuring Today
November 4, 2005

NEMA has pat on back for Pennsylvania PUC's action

Pennsylvania regulators' rejection last week of a Columbia Gas tariff that allowed special deals with some customers was "important," said NEMA President Craig Goodman (RT, 10/28).

          "Using the utility's valuable brand name and corporate charter in a competitive marketplace is bad enough," said Goodman, "but the proposal, if approved, also would have circumvented the utility's own code of conduct."

          Pennsylvania's is one of "very few PUCs in the country that have the mandate, leadership and now the record on which to act boldly, progressively and competitively" to bring competition's benefits to consumers and small businesses, Goodman noted.

          NEMA recommends several strategies states can use to encourage new jobs and "price discipline" by allowing competition to flourish:

            Utility incentives tied to shopping rates;

            Eliminating exit fees for shoppers;

            Rewarding utilities that "redirect resources out of high-risk competitive functions into reliability/efficiency and infrastructure investments with higher rates of return."

          Goodman warned of the dangers of price controls where the economy and consumers always lose.

          "If utilities worked more closely with us . . . together we can really help the consumer and the country."



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