If a power company makes a decision that turns out to be a bad one, who should bear the cost - stockholders or rate payers? The answer to that question will be the key to bringing electric competition to Pennsylvania and perhaps a model for other states facing the same dilemma.
Years ago, the state's Public Utility Commission approved the PECO Energy Company's application to build a state-of-the-art nuclear plant in Limerick, a plant that has, over time, become terribly expensive to operate. PECO is deeply in debt and its customers have some of the nation's highest electric bills, according to The Associated Press.
Soon it will be possible for Pennsylvanians to purchase electricity from a variety of companies, which means that PECO's pricey power will probably not be anyone's top choice without some help from state regulators.
Tom Hill, PECO's vice president and controller, says customers should be billed for 100 percent of those costs while state Sen. Vincent Fumo, D-Philadelphia, says they shouldn't bear any responsibility, even though PECO is planning to refinance its investments - more than $3 billion worth - at lower rates.