Consumers want one-stop shopping - everything in one package, and the telephone, too.
The role of the local electric utility could take on a much larger proportion if residential...
real-time control of energy conservation devices. Total cost will run "in the tens of millions of dollars," says Ralph Izzo, PSE&G's general manager for electric business development. AT&T and PSE&G plan to market the finished system architecture to electric and gas utilities worldwide.
PSE&G has also formed a partnership with Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. to market natural gas nationwide under the name of U.S. Energy Partners, based in Houston. PSE&G is the utility subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., an exempt public utility holding company. Nonutility businesses belong to a second subsidiary, Enterprise Diversified Holdings Inc. (EDHI), which accounts for about 4 percent of Enterprise's total net income. Nonutility operations include oil and gas exploration and production, development of cogeneration and power production facilities, and passive investments. EDHI has interests in 19 domestic cogeneration and independent power projects; 17 are currently in operation, including an electric generating plant in Argentina. Analysts says that returns from nonutility operations have not performed as well as hoped but are improving.
PSE&G is generally viewed as having strong financial resources, a management willing to adapt to increasing competition, and a relatively small industrial customer base (24 percent of total sales). PSE&G has interests in five nuclear units and relies heavily on nuclear power. But analysts say operating performance at the five units has been uneven in recent years. Nevertheless, ratings agencies predict a stable outlook for PSE&G. Barry M. Abramson, utilities analyst with Prudential Securities Inc., rates the stock as a "hold." There's no question PSE&G will be a survivor in the brave new world of competition, Abramson said. "The question is whether they will survive and thrive. That's a question only time will tell." t
W. Lynn Garner is senior writer of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.
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