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Perspective

Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1998

60 amp single-phase connection to a dedicated substation for a 15-megawatt connection, find it similarly convenient to purchase their flow of bits in the same manner and from the same entity.

No dissertation on the virtues of the Glasgow project and others similar to it would be complete without exploring financial results. Even King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expected Columbus to return with some spoils to prove that he had indeed found the New World.

We never envisioned our cable television service as a stand-alone money maker. Rather, we saw it as an important structure in our vision of the infotricity utility. (See Table 1.) We are quite pleased that we have finally crossed over into positive net income for the fiscal year just ended. The people of Glasgow were quite willing to make a long-term investment in broadband infrastructure that they believed would bring them exponentially more benefits than the costs of the early losses. Indeed, they were correct in their vision. The amount of money retained in the local economy since the competition created by our project lowered the cost of cable television service. (See Table 2.)

Shopping centers don't apply the rules of cost-benefit analysis before they make a decision to build a parking lot beside their building. Neither do they measure the profit and loss of those parking lots. If they did, none of us would find a place to park. We, like they, should evaluate the impact of these new services in the light of the impact on the whole of the operation. Electric utilities also must see the value of becoming infotricity utilities before they decide to embark on a voyage like ours. However, our transition to an infotricity utility has been good for our energy sales business (See Table 3).

The New World we discovered is a world with dew still on it, so rich with possibilities that we can hardly imagine what will happen next. We can see infotricity making the deregulation of our industry a reality. When we are all infotricity utilities, it will be easy for a generation utility to post prices on the Web. So posted, it will be simple for our customers to shop for the best deal, make the deal, have their usage monitored by the vending utility and get billed for it via e-mail. With the bit pipe extended to the home, it will be a natural next step to extend the pipe throughout the home; it will go everywhere that electron pipes go. Appliances will all report their usage of energy to the utility on the ubiquitous network. We will then create power rates for discreet devices. We can run "specials" on clothes drying energy after 10 p.m. or special dish-washing energy sales on the weekend. The days of one electric meter for the whole house will be gone.

These are but a few of the many things we have discovered in the New World of infotricity.

How does an electric utility decide if it is to sail off to the land of infotricity? The answer lies