The stranded cost debate in Colorado has picked up again as the state looks to deregulate its utilities. A task force formed by Governor Bill Owens looks to be giving the thumbs up to securitization for the recovery of stranded costs in a recently issued report.

Enlisting the help of management consultants Stone & Webster, the Colorado Electric Advisory Panel issued a report identifying a "consensus that securitization can be a useful tool" and is "the most popular technique" to ensure mitigation of stranded cost estimates.

The report identified totals on stranded costs for five Colorado utility concerns which could tick up to $1.3 billion per year. New Century Power is by far the largest electric company in the state. Officials at New Century would neither confirm nor deny rate reduction bonds had been mulled as a favored way to recover stranded costs for the firm. A spokesman said it was too early to tell, but that the release of the commission report was significant, because all concerned were waiting to see what direction it might take the debate.

After several deregulation bills were stymied in legislative sessions previous to the most recent session, Governor Owens formed the committee to shape utility deregulation for the State. No bills were introduced in the most recent legislative session ended May 1.

- SK

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