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Fortnightly Magazine - September 15 1999


Gregory S. Vassell

Don't overlook impacts on power supply reliability, urges a consultant.


Messrs. Cicchetti and Long deserve a round of applause for their insightful article, "Transmission Products and Pricing: Hidden Agendas in the ISO/Transco Debate," in the June 15, 1999, issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly.

News Analysis

Lori A. Burkhart, and Regina R. Johnson

Online services are popping up - for commodity trading, retail marketing and back-office billing. But is the Web right for every application?

A recent study by Connecticut-based META Group Inc. finds that while less than 5 percent of all utility commerce will be conducted electronically in 1999, 30 percent of customer service and retail bill payments will flow over the Internet by 2004. That prediction highlights a torrent of Web activity in recent months, from power trading online to retail solicitations to electronic customer billing and payment.

Off Peak

Frank Dixon

Investors look at environmental ratings for link to stock performance.

While socially responsible investors have been interested in environmental performance for some time, mainstream utilities investors are looking at the issue for a different reason - environmental leaders consistently achieve better financial and stock market performance than their less eco-efficient competitors.

Information Architecture: Building the Right Foundation for Customer Choice in Energy

Eric Cody

The crazy quilt emerging in restructured markets only impedes competition.

The enthusiasm among energy retailers has become infectious. It grows as each successive state opens its market to competition. Yet behind the promise lies a grim reality.

Retailers struggle against a tide of thin margins, high customer-acquisition costs, inconsistent rules and regulatory prescriptions for the unregulated market. With all the rulemakings and workshops, the dollars budgeted by utilities to implement retail choice rise above even the level of spending to eradicate the Y2K millennium bug.

The Internet: Tomorrow's Solution Today

Chris S. King

Let customers choose their own billing format.

The information-management and transaction-cost problems facing deregulated markets are familiar to me. They describe precisely the same barriers I was trying to overcome when I founded Inc., an entirely Internet-based energy service provider.

The Internet offers an especially powerful tool for customer service. With deregulation, customers face an enormous learning curve. Not only can they now choose their electric company, but they also must become familiar with new terminology and concepts.

Power Markets Disconnected? How to Reconcile Retail with Wholesale

David Magnus Boonin and Stephen R. Fernands

Shopping credits, capacity rules and other mistakes from California and PJM.

With retail electric markets opening rapidly, why are so many getting off to a slow start? Why do suppliers abandon some markets and consumers decline to participate in others? The answer may lie in a series of disconnections between wholesale trading patterns and retail opportunities.


Bruce W. Radford

MIT professor Paul Joskow asks the FERC how its rulemaking will help consumers.

By Aug. 23, the electric industry had filed over 150 separate comments - nearly 4,000 pages - telling the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission what it thinks about regional transmission organizations.

All other stories pale in comparison. The commission's proposed rulemaking on RTOs would reinvent the electric transmission business. The case gives economists a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to instruct a government agency how to design and build a market from the ground up.


CMS Electric & Gas Co. named Frank Johnson vice president of international electric and gas distribution. He previously was the company's vice president of energy distribution.

J. Kay Smith was appointed vice president of corporate communications and public policy at Ameren Corp. Smith was promoted from assistant to the president for AmerenCIPS and manager of government affairs for Ameren Services.

Duke Energy International appointed David Weaver executive vice president for Europe.