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Fortnightly Magazine - March 2006

Market Resurgence

Banks are reshaping the energy-trading landscape. When the dust settles, utility companies will face different strategic horizons.

By Michael T. Burr

Utility executives face volatile energy markets, skyrocketing fuel prices, and changing federal energy policies. How are utilities benefiting from the turnaround in energy trading?

Long-Term Transmission Rights: A High-Stakes Debate

The absence of long-term transmission rights could exclude potential competition—and cause higher electricity costs.

Laurence D. Kirsch

Power-industry restructuring redistributed financial uncertainties that discourage generation investment and ultimately raise the price of electricity to consumers.

LNG's Final Hurdle

Interchangeability issues threaten to delay vitally needed LNG projects.

Jake Dweck and David Wochner

Gas composition issues have become a significant hurdle for the industry. Resolving these challenges will not be easy, requiring all stakeholders to apply a thoughtful approach to understanding the issues.

Winning the Merger Game

A new wave of consolidation is coming. To succeed, a company must understand where its strengths are.

Peter Lorenz, Matt Pond, and Thomas Seitz

Companies that relied heavily on mergers and acquisitions generated more than half of the value in the power industry during the past 10 years. Furthermore, more than half that value was generated by a handful of companies. How did they do it?

After EPACT: A Mad, Mad Scramble for Talent

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 makes human resource challenges even more significant.

Michael B. Brown

Hidden in the 1,700-plus pages of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is a set of regulatory requirements that will redefine the technology, leadership, training, culture, compensation, job design, and organizational models currently employed in the industry.

Manual Meter Reading: Twenty-First Century Tools

Segways and rugged laptops afford new levels of convenience—and protection—for mobile workers.

Christian Hamaker

Advanced metering may be the future of meter reading, but as utilities grapple with implementation costs and technical issues, it’s in their best interest to maximize meter reading done the old-fashioned way: on two feet.

The Merger Paradox

More consolidation could trim costs, but some CEOs fear a backlash from regulators.

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

With the possible exception of keeping the lights on, the merger game dwarfs just about every other question facing today’s electric utilities. The last big wave of consolidation hit in the late 1990s. Now the forecast calls for a repeat performance, but don’t bet the farm. There’s a hitch, you see. It’s today’s high commodity costs.

People

(March 2006) FirstEnergy Corp. named Bennett L. Gaines vice president and CIO. PPL Corp. named Matt Simmons vice president and controller. NorthWestern Corp., d/b/a NorthWestern Energy, named D. Louis Peoples to its board of directors. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards re-elected Dr. Graham B. Wallis as chairman, Dr. William J. Shack as vice-chairman, and John D. Sieber as member-at-large. And others...

Preparing for the Next Nuke

Using scenario analysis to help utilities map out their strategies.

Doug Buresh and Gary L. Hunt

If you were a utility executive today would you consider building a new nuclear power plant? What if the United States decided to implement the emission reductions called for in the Kyoto Protocol without adopting it? How might your business be affected by another 9/11-scale terrorist attack on a U.S. target? What would be the impact of growing reliability problems in key U.S. power markets? Some utility executives are asking themselves just such questions.

Building a Strong ERO

The North American Electric Reliability Council should be promptly certified as America’s electric reliability organization.

James Fama

To create the strong electric reliability system envisioned by Congress, FERC needs to focus on many issues, two of which are especially important: creating consistency in how compliance and enforcement programs are carried out at the regional level, and leading the transition—effectively and promptly—from today’s world to the new era called for in EPACT.

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