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Frontlines

Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1997

becoming a commodity," he said.

The next day, when I still didn't get it, even after reading the news accounts in all the papers, I spent some time on the phone with Guarriello, of EnergyOne, and with Raymond G. Saleeby, managing partner, utilities and energies industries, AT&T solutions.

The "Value Proposition"

EDITOR: I had a difficult time at the press conference understanding the nature of the EnergyOne product? Can you clear that up?

SALEEBY: EnergyOne is developing a premier group of services in a bundle that carries a value proposition of comfort and convenience. The bundles will be made even more compelling because it will include AT&T long-distance telephone service. The brand will allow the local utility to be able to compete in the energy and telecommunications market, and not necessarily as the lowest-cost commodity in the market.

EDITOR: I noticed that you intended to offer "customer care." Does that mean that AT&T Solutions will have the customer contact with EnergyOne buyers? What do you mean by customers care?

SALEEBY: Customer care refers to our call center services. AT&T Solutions is a world-class quality supplier of customer care centers. We operate about fourteen to seventeen call centers around the world. We provide the call center; its management, staffing and training.

EDITOR: How will your customer care service play to the advantage of EnergyOne?

SALEEBY: When a resident moves today, they've got to make a lot of calls; electric, water, cable TV, telephone service, etc. We're trying to minimize that, to provide one-call service.

EDITOR: Do you operate call centers for other energy utilities?

SALEEBY: There are other utilities to whom we are talking about to manage customer care centers. I suspect we will be operating customer care centers for a number of utilities, both within and without EnergyOne.

But the AT&T Solutions care people who work with EnergyOne customers will be dedicated to EnergyOne. It's not a Chinese wall, it's a real wall. Separate floors, separate buildings, separate cities. When you're the size of AT&T, you get used to that.

Competing With Enron

EDITOR: There's something here I don't quite understand. Isn't EnergyOne going to be a "hostage," to the level of service quality and reliability offered by the regulated distribution utility that actually delivers the energy?

GUARRIELLO: Right now, there isn't a lot of latitude there. Initially, for the first year, the consumer will still get a bill from the utility, co-branded with EnergyOne, for whatever products and services they buy from EnergyOne. But eventually [after deregulation proceeds?] we will provide a consolidated bill to the customer. Of course, some consumers may want to have two bills, others might want to have one bill.

EDITOR: What sort of services will you offer? Would you bundle a guarantee of energy savings with energy efficient appliances, or offer "smart-home" services, through AT&T Solutions, like automatic meter-reading and real-time price discovery?

GUARRIELLO: Over time, we'll have offers in that vein. You bet. Homeowners will have devices that adjust thermostats from a remote location.

EDITOR: Are you selling on price, or are yo selling on