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News Analysis

Fortnightly Magazine - September 15 1999

Williams, because crashes are most likely to occur at the most critical trading times - when prices and site activity are highest.

Said Williams, "It's a matter of getting what you pay for."

Next Up: Megastores, or

Niche Products?

Vermont-based Green Mountain - not to be confused with the Vermont-based electric utility, Green Mountain Power - has entered into an agreement with Internet provider Yahoo! Inc. to market its environmentally friendly brand of electricity.

Green Mountain will run banner advertisements throughout the Yahoo! network in California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, giving users of the Web search engine the opportunity to purchase via the Internet electricity made from energy blends featuring renewable energy sources.

"Through the intersection of the Internet and utility deregulation, our relationship with Yahoo! greatly expands our potential online customer base," said Kevin Hartley, Green Mountain.com's chief marketing officer.

Green Mountain serves about 75,000 customers in Pennsylvania and California. Several of its top executives previously worked at the Green Mountain Power electric utility.

Another innovative Web-based marketer, Full Power Group Inc., plans to use the Internet to establish its Online Power Supermarket. It recently acquired Meter Reader, a remote meter reading operation, and plans to build a database using accumulated information. The supermarket provides consumers with a true analysis of all power and utility costs, along with a complete list of providers in their service areas for one-stop comparative shopping. The user may assess the most economical buying program based on product availability and their individual usage profile.

Full Power wants to expand to include supplier comparisons for natural gas, water and heating oil. Eventually, all other types of utility service usage, such as long-distance and local telephone costs, alarm monitoring contracts, cable television and interactive services and maintenance contracts, will be part of the package.

According to Full Power chief operating officer Donald Johnson, "The Internet gives us the ability, through instant communications and sophisticated computer programming, to turn this evolutionary process to the consumer's buying advantage. The companies that accomplish this metamorphosis successfully will be the mercantile giants of the next century."

Lori A. Burkhart is a contributing legal editor and Regina R. Johnson is managing editor at Public Utilities Fortnightly.

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