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Ratings Agencies Hit CNG, MCN and Questar

For those interested in the ratings game, this past week was nota good one for natural gas companies as Moody’s Investors Servicedowngraded one natural gas company and Standard & Poor’s puttwo others on CreditWatch with negative implications. All threeremain in the rarefied upper ranks by virtue of the guaranteedreturns that come with their utility operations. But it’s theirincreasing unregulated business that’s making the ratings agenciesnervous.

August 17, 1998

FERC Wins the Praise of Pipeline for ROR Revisions

FERC made three small but significant changes to its pipelinerate of return policy this week, winning the praise of theInterstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), whichrepresents the pipelines. INGAA President Jerald V. Halvorsen saidthe Commission’s action “should help pipelines compete in theincreasingly competitive financial markets for the capital to buildprojects that are necessary to meet projections of a 30 Tcf naturalgas economy by 2010.”

July 31, 1998

QuickTrade Launches Electronic Power Trading System

QuickTrade released the first commercial Internet-basedelectronic power trading system this week. Streamline, its biggestcompetitor, is expected to follow suit over the next few months.The QuickTrade system is equipped to handle forward trades at 13hub locations across the U.S. and one in Canada, and so far hasattracted the interest of about 35 traders, 20 of which have signedup to begin utilizing the system.

July 10, 1998

Vector Project Arrives at NEB

IPL Energy and MCN Energy took the last major regulatory step inadvancing their 1 Bcf/d Vector Pipeline project this week by filingan application with Canada’s National Energy Board forauthorization to construct the 16-mile Ontario portion of the342-mile line. An application for the larger U.S. portion was filedwith FERC in December.

July 8, 1998

El Paso Exits NrG Partnership

El Paso Energy sold its 25% interest in NrG Information Servicesto NrG’s remaining partners, NOVA Gas Transmission., TransCanadaPipeLines, and Westcoast Energy. “This decision allows El PasoEnergy to continue focusing on its core businesses, includingnatural gas transmission, gas gathering and processing, energymarketing, and international project development,” said Graciela E.Martinez, El Paso vice president.

June 30, 1998

Merger of Midwest Utilities Gets FERC Nod

FERC earlier this week gave its blessing to the indirect mergerof two Midwest electric utilities – Wisconsin Public Service andUpper Peninsula Power.

May 29, 1998

Ohio PUC Staff Moves to Complete Unbundling

An additional 1.6 million customers in 41 Ohio counties could bechoosing alternative gas suppliers this winter, followed by morethan 2.8 million customers in 57 of Ohio’s 88 counties in November1999, if the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) accepts itsstaff’s recommendations. Based on good results in pilot programslast winter in metropolitan Toledo (Columbia Gas), Canton andMarietta (East Ohio Gas) and in greater Cincinnati (Cincinnati Gas& Electric), staff told the full commission the three pilotprograms should be expanded as soon as possible.

May 22, 1998

Baker Hughes, Western Atlas to Merge

Consolidation in the drilling/oilfield services industrycontinued this week, with the announcement that Baker Hughes andWestern Atlas plan to merge in a tax-free, stock-for-stocktransaction valued at $5.5 billion. It will create a company with$6.5 billion in annual revenues and 36,000 employees.

May 12, 1998

Industry Briefs

Consolidated Edison announced it plans to sell two-thirds (5,500MW) of its New York City electric generation plants in an auctionstarting this summer. Its plants will be divided into threebundles. Each bundle will include a major generating facility-theRavenswood Generating Station in Long Island City, the AstoriaGenerating Station in Astoria, or the Arthur Kill Station on StatenIsland-and gas turbine generating facilities in Queens andBrooklyn. The company plans to sell two of the bundles throughauction and retain the remaining bundle, which has not yet beenidentified. It expects to receive authorization from the New YorkState Public Service Commission (PSC) by July 1. The auctionprocess would begin later that month, with the winning bidders tobe announced in January 1999.

March 3, 1998

Consumers Expands Retail Program

Consumers Energy will expand its “Gas Customer Choice” retailprogram this April to 100,000 customers state-wide in Michigan,following a one-year pilot that allowed 500 customers in Bay Countyto pick another natural gas supplier. In all, 300,000 customerswill be given a choice of suppliers over the next three years.

March 2, 1998
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