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Fortnightly Magazine - June 2006

A Consumer Advocate's View: Decoupling and Energy Efficiency

Two sides of the same coin.

Janine Migden-Ostrander

When I became the Consumers’ Counsel for the state of Ohio in April 2004, natural-gas prices were hovering between $7/Mcf and $8/Mcf (thousand cubic feet). In the next year and a half, Ohioans saw gas prices double, peaking at a residential statewide average of $16.89/Mcf in the month of September 2005. The latter reflects the exacerbation of prices, already high, by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the gulf region. The purpose of this article is not to focus on the national security and energy independence issues that arise from these circumstances, but rather to examine what we can do in the United States to ensure affordable and reliable supplies for residential consumers in both the short and long term.

Utilities Get "Defense"-ive

How cutting-edge military technologies can help solve some of the industry’s most critical issues.

David Turner

Whether it’s an aging workforce, the impact of competitive markets, or an outdated transmission system, today’s energy and utility organizations are facing a whole new set of challenges. What many people in the industry don’t realize is that the utility sector is not the first to face these kinds of issues. The U.S. military is dealing with, or has dealt with, a strikingly similar set of problems in recent years.

Interest Rates Strike Back

The old paradigm—a strong inverse correlation of high interest rates and lower utility valuations—once again takes hold.

Ian C. Connor

The recent breakout of the benchmark 10-Year Treasury yield from the recent mid-4 percent yield band to approximately 5 percent (with some market expectation that it may increase further) potentially has important strategic and value implications for the power and utility industry.

Merchant Power: When Hedging and Profits Collide

Does too much risk management mean leaving money on the table?

Andy Dunn

Why do energy merchants or those utilities with merchant power divisions obsess over “selling” their upside? These companies feel compelled to show steady, predictable profit streams to both the street and their stakeholders, despite the fact that they operate within one of the most volatile markets in the world. Typically, their method of achieving earnings consistency centers on the execution of complicated purchase and sales agreements that effectively lock in the price of fuel and electricity. Don’t these contracts really just eliminate the potential positive return an energy merchant strives to achieve in the first place?

Kicked Off and On Schedule

Cal-ISO files a new market design, but has it traded efficiency for software?

Bruce W. Radford

Eyeing a launch date of November 2007, Cal-ISO at last has come forward with plans for revamping its widely disparaged wholesale market design. The formal proposal, known as the MRTU (Market Redesign and Technology Upgrade), was filed this past February at FERC.

The CEO Forum: The Ultimate CEOs

What is leadership?

Richard Stavros

Fortnightly speaks to five CEOs who exemplify industry leadership: David L. Sokol, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.; Peter A. Darbee, PG&E Corp.; Jeff Sterba, PNM Resources; Peggy Fowler, Portland General Electric; and J. Wayne Leonard, Entergy.

The CEO Forum: The Ultimate CEOs: David L. Sokol

Chairman and CEO, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.

Interview by Richard Stavros

“Leadership is the recognition that we are fiduciaries of the customer’s dollars and we have to be as efficient as we possibly can be because it is their money and not ours.”

The CEO Forum: The Ultimate CEOs: Peter A. Darbee

Chairman, President, and CEO, PG&E Corp.

Interview by Richard Stavros

“The nature of a leader is that they set targets that you can’t accomplish by extending a ruler over the past track record in getting there.”

The CEO Forum: The Ultimate CEOs: Jeff Sterba

Chairman, President, and CEO, PNM Resources

Interview by Richard Stavros

“Any leader who thinks their job is only about articulating a grand vision is sadly mistaken. Success is 20 percent planning, 60 percent execution, and 20 percent luck.”

The CEO Forum: The Ultimate CEOs: Peggy Fowler

President and CEO, Portland General Electric

Interview by Richard Stavros

“I think in our business, meeting higher customer expectations and staying focused on that all of the time will ultimately serve your shareholders.”

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