New Law Allows Competition in Illinois

A measure signed into law by Illinois Gov. George Ryan provides a range of benefits for electric consumers, Illinois industry and the environment, while allowing Illinois utilities to compete more effectively in the restructured energy marketplace.

"This measure provides substantial benefits for residential and business customers, industry, environmental interests and the electric utility industry," says John W. Rowe, Unicom chairman and CEO. Unicom is the parent holding company of Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Chicago. "The legislation enhances reliability, accelerates savings for residential customers, and provides faster access to customer choice for Illinois industrial manufacturers," Rowe adds.

As a result of the legislation, which became effective July 1, 1999, residential ratepayers will receive a 5% base-rate reduction in October 2001, seven months earlier than originally scheduled. Choice of suppliers for commercial and industrial customers begins Oct. 1, 1999. The overall schedule for choice for commercial and industrial customers has been accelerated.

An integral part of the measure is ComEd's commitment to spend at least US$2 billion on maintenance and enhancements to its transmission and distribution system outside of Chicago between 1999 and 2004. These expenditures are in addition to the company's earlier commitment to the city of Chicago to spend US$1 billion on reliability improvements through 2004.

Under the new law, ComEd will allocate US$250 million to a special fund that supports environmental initiatives and energy-efficiency programs throughout the state. The governor, members of the Illinois General Assembly and ComEd will appoint a board to administer the fund.

Accelerating the scheduled 5% residential-rate reduction from May 2002 to October 2001 will save residential ratepayers an estimated US$74 million. In addition, industrial customers using less than 4 MW of electricity will be able to choose electric suppliers sooner. The access date for these customers moves up from Dec. 31, 2000. Half of these customers will have choice on June 1, 2000, and half will have choice on Oct. 1, 2000.

The new law provides that ComEd cannot seek additional competitive transition charges from residential, industrial and commercial customers after 2006.

Under the new legislation Illinois utilities will receive an increase of two percentage points in the earnings cap. The increase will allow these companies to compete more effectively in the evolving restructured energy marketplace. The measure also preserves labor protections enacted by the 1997 Restructuring Law.

BSES Automates Its Substations in Mumbai Bombay Suburban Electricity Supply (BSES) has contracted GE Harris Control Systems Canada Inc. to supply equipment for an automation project in Mumbai. Emco Ltd., GE Harris' local associate, will supply the substation automation equipment. The project, estimated at US$2 million, will automate 48 BSES substations.

BSES, an integrated power generation and distribution company, provides power distribution to 148.3 sq miles (384 sq km) of suburban Mumbai.

NERC Says Industry Is Y2K Ready On Aug. 3, 1999, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) told the U.S. Department of Energy that the electric power industry is year 2000 (Y2K) ready.

"More than 99% of all the critical elements of the U.S. and Canadian electricity supply systems are ready for Y2K," says Michehl R. Gent, president of NERC. "If New Year's Day 2000 was tomorrow, we believe the lights would remain on in North America."

Gent's conclusion is reiterated in a Y2K status report prepared by NERC. NERC's findings are based in part on monthly comprehensive surveys of industry participants. The surveys show that Y2K remediation and testing are complete at all but a handful of facilities that have scheduled late-1999 maintenance outages, or are awaiting delivery of hardware or software from vendors. Contingency plans, which include extra personnel on hand during the holiday weekend, are in place to handle any unexpected events that may occur.

Electrical Conferences Scheduled for October The 2nd International Exhibition on Electric Power Equipment and Technology (EP Shanghai '99) and the International Exhibition on Electrical Engineering, Electrical Equipment and Contractors' Supplies (Electrical Shanghai '99) will be held from Oct. 27-30, 1999, at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. Sponsored by the State Power Corp., each show has its own focuses and highlights.

The major themes of EP Shanghai '99 cover the technologies, equipment and instrumentation for power generation, transmission and distribution as well as control and testing. This year's show features more exhibitors from the fields of power dispatching, telecommunication technology and information technology.

EP Shanghai '99 will focus on low-voltage electrical engineering and installation, industrial power usage equipment and energy-saving technology for industrial end users.

CP&L Buys Florida Progress Corp. Carolina Power and Light (CP&L), Raleigh, North Carolina, and Florida Progress Corp., St. Petersburg, Florida, plan to merge operations. The boards of directors of both companies unanimously approved the agreement on Aug. 23, 1999.

The combined company will have total revenues of US$6.7 billion (based on 1998 figures) and 2.7 million electricity and gas customers in a 50,000 sq mile (129,500 sq km) retail service area.

The company will have a strong presence in the Southeastern electric and natural gas markets, and it plans to focus on expanding the region's electric generation capacity and delivering reliable, competitively priced energy throughout its high-growth service area.

Florida Progress Corp. is a holding company with member companies that include Florida Power Co. and a subsidiary called Electric Fuels Inc., which is involved in energy and transportation.

The combined company will have a total enterprise value of approximately US$17 billion.

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