New ELectric Generating Capacity Unneeded, Says Report

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By Ronda Fears Journal Record Staff Reporter A draft biennial Electric System Planning Report being prepared under the tutelage of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, pursuant to a 1983 law, predicts no new electric generating capacity will be needed in the state until 2004.

The report assumes peak demand growth of at least 1.5 percent and energy requirement growth of 2.3 percent annually through 2000, with a reserve margin of 9 percent. The reserve margin is significantly lower than 18 percent or 15 percent used by the Southwest Power Pool, which report authors said would cost some $15 million annually to achieve and push up capacity addition requirements to 2000 or 2002.

Numerous material changes have been implemented in the latest report, which is in draft form and was discussed in a technical conference Thursday among commission staff, report authors and electric companies.

Evidencing a philosophically different approach to the charge mandated by the Oklahoma Legislature, the scope of the report was expanded and enhanced in the 1991 document, which examines the period 1991-2000. It is expected to be finalized before the end of the year.

Issues such as non-utility cogeneration, coordination among the eight electric providers in the state, demand side management and forecasting capacity expansion and load growths were addressed more specifically for the first time.

Before, the report consisted basically of a compilation of figures supplied by the various electric providers and little more outside a brief executive summary of the figures. That was the necessary achievement level perceived by previous public utility directors at the commission, said staff member Steve Wilt.

With a new public utility division director and a new panel of commissioners, the direction of the report has changed, Wilt said.

Too, the scope of the report was impacted greatly by cogeneration hearings since the 1989 report. Contested hearings delved more deeply into the planning process employed by the two major electricity providers in Oklahoma _ Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, commission staff said.

To accomplish the expanded scope of this fourth report, the corporation commission contracted for the work for the first time. Decision Focus Inc. of Los Altos, Calif., is preparing the report for the commission.

Some of the regulated utilities in Oklahoma perhaps feel the commission is too ambitious in its latest undertaking.

"The report is not even consistent . . . with some of the commission's decisions this year," said Jack Fite, an attorney for PSO.

In a contested cogeneration case, the corporation commission ruled in July that PSO's system would not need additional generation capacity until 1999.

"The report attacks what public utilities are doing," said OG&E in written comments on the report.

Conversely, Smith Cogeneration Inc., a private power company, said in written comments: "The report is biased toward providers (electric companies)." The report encompasses the systems of OG&E, PSO, Grand River Dam Authority, Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, Southwestern Public Service Co., Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, Empire District Electric Co. …