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The Ultimate CEOs: C. John Wilder, TXU Corp.

The CEO Power Forum: Not all utility CEOs are created equal...

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2005

course, the utility is offended at the industrial customer because they are so demanding and ruthless in terms of their demands of performance, and they believe they oversimplify the manufacturing of electricity. The typical industrial customer will think, well, anyone can run a chemical plant, steel mill, or auto plant. That’s a complicated manufacturing complex to operate, what you do isn’t very hard and you should be able to do it a lot more efficiently. So, there’s a history in the industry for those two classes of market participants to be at odds. That’s been the way it’s been in Texas. It’s gone back decades. 

But in this legislation session in Texas … for the first time the industrial customers and the utilities were on the same side. Everyone was saying this actually works. Now, it has been painful, don’t get me wrong. … When I joined the company we had 14,000 employees. We have 8,000 employees today. So, markets drive you to be more efficient. Markets drive you to run your operations in a more efficient way. We had about 4,000 people in our corporate center. Now we have 200. It’s the invisible hand of the markets. They just have a way of driving you to service levels and efficiency levels that can’t be done by centrally planned governments. You can tell by my responses I favor market solutions. I’ve worked in market-based companies and I’ve worked in monopoly-based companies, I truly believe that market-based solutions are better. I think they allocate resources for innovation and spur efficiency better than centrally planned solutions.