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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

STB begins cost-of-capital proceeding, sets energy transportation committee meeting


The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has initiated a proceeding to help determine the rail industry’s cost of capital for 2013.

The cost-of-capital figure represents the board’s estimate of the average rate of return needed to persuade investors to provide capital to the freight-rail industry. Calculated each year, the figure is an essential component of many of the STB’s core regulatory responsibilities, according to the board.

Through the proceeding, the STB is seeking comments on railroads’ current cost of debt capital and current cost of preferred equity capital, their cost of common equity capital and the rail industry's 2013 capital structure mix on a market-value basis. Conclusions reached with the help of comments will be used to compute the industry’s composite cost of capital for 2013, STB officials said in a proceeding notice.

Notices of intent to participate in the proceeding are due to the STB by March 31. Statements from the railroads are due April 21, statements from other interested persons are due May 12, and rebuttal statements from railroads are due June 2.

Meanwhile, the STB's Rail Energy Transportation Advisory Committee (RETAC) plans to hold a meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Open to the public, the meeting will focus on further discussions about various issues, such as rail performance, capacity constraints, infrastructure planning and development, and more effective coordination among suppliers, carriers and energy users. Agenda items include a performance measures review, industry segment reports from committee members, presentations on the domestic coal market and domestic oil production, and a roundtable discussion.

Established by the board in 2007, RETAC provides independent policy advice to the STB. Members include a cross-section of energy and rail industry stakeholders. The committee is co-chaired by Kansas City Southern Railway Co.'s Darin Selby and PPL EnergyPlus L.L.C.'s Robert Gabbard.