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Fortnightly Magazine - October 2006

A National Meltdown

Discordant global-warming solutions may end up burning utilities.

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

How will utilities in the next 10 years manage a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure buildout, higher interest rates/cost of capital, diminishing free cash flows, state renewable mandates, and political pressures to keep rates or power prices low, all while complying with carbon emissions programs that emphasize higher-cost fuels? Meeting the challenges may depend on whether a national carbon program that regulates carbon emissions is established.

People

(October 2006) Kansas City Power & Light promoted Kevin Bryant to vice president of Energy Solutions. American Electric Power announced a series of executive reassignments as part of the company’s succession planning strategy. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. elected Bill Morrow as president and COO. Bob Drennan, a 23-year Progress Energy veteran, has been named vice president of investor relations. And others...

Don't Mess With Texas

America’s energy competition laboratory prepares to build.

Hind Farag and Gary L. Hunt

The ERCOT region remains a living example of how to make a successful transition to restructured wholesale and retail markets for electricity. At the same time, the market continues to witness some significant developments. Sights are turning from recovery to the next stage of the power business cycle: The Buildup.

The Most Effective Way

Market prices send investors clear signals to invest in the most efficient means for producing electricity.

Thomas L. Welch

Higher electricity prices have drawn sharp attention to the design of organized wholesale electricity markets—particularly to areas where residential customers’ rates will increase because multi-year rate freezes are ending. Some suggest changing the way that markets set wholesale electricity prices, or doing away with competitive markets entirely and returning to government regulation of prices. They say that the design of the markets exaggerates the effects of natural-gas price increases and unfairly rewards generators that use lower-cost fuels.

Industry Evolution: Financial Pressures Ahead

Can utilities simultaneously manage rising costs and pressing capital investment needs?

Johannes P. Pfeifenberger

Does the utility industry have the financial strength sufficient to meet the combined challenges of: (1) sharply increasing and highly volatile fuel and purchased-power costs; (2) significant capital investment requirements; and (3) rising interest rates?

Bad Day at Black Oak

Beware even the best of attempts at apportioning grid rights and costs.

Bruce W. Radford

Several recent complaints involving PJM and now at FERC pose fundamental questions on how regulators and grid operators should attempt to price and allocate grid rights and costs. Is the transmission network a public asset, with costs that must be apportioned on principles of equity? Or, rather, is transmission an instrument of commerce, to be priced so as to maximize trade?

The Trouble with Risk Measures

Companies should adopt a far more robust metric.

Andy Dunn

Market risk remains one of the most significant issues for gas and power merchants. The SEC requires disclosure of market risks in a company’s annual filings. However, the allowable metrics fail to communicate the type of information an investor actually can use to gain an understanding of the market risk embedded in a company’s business.

The Nation's Grid Chiefs: On The Future of Markets

Exclusive interviews with the CEOs of five regional transmission systems.

By Bruce W. Radford

Exclusive interviews with CEOs at five regional independent transmission system operators: Phil Harris, at PJM; Gordon van Welie, at ISO New England; Yakout Monsour, at the California ISO; Graham Edwards, at MISO; and Mark Lynch, at the New York ISO.

A Capital Problem: Financing the Next Big Build

As rate disallowances become more commonplace and capital requirements expand, infrastructure development will come with a higher price tag.

Michael T. Burr

As the industry’s regulatory risks and capital requirements expand, financing will come with a higher price tag—and another cost pressure in the ratemaking process.

M&A Value Creation: Combating the "Winner's Curse"

Significant value waits to be unlocked through consolidation, but conventional approaches have been inadequate.

Jim Hendrickson, Robert Laurens, and Andre Begosso

Can consolidation create sustainable long-term value, or will it prove seductive but, ultimately, disappointing to shareholders, employees, customers, and management alike?

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