Rothschild investment banker Roger Wood explains why those new infrastructure funds are hot on utilities.
He was quite literally the toast of last year’s EEI Finance conference. Using his bank’s diverse resources (Rothschild vineyards in France), he arranged an unforgettable wine tasting that was a big hit with utility executives. Roger Wood, the head of Rothschild’s Power & Utilities Group in North America, is one of the few true white knights on Wall Street. Whereas many banks have developed businesses that can conflict with their utility clients’ interests, Wood says Rothschild’s bankers “live and die by providing long-term independent advice.”
A 2007 law essentially prohibits California utilities from signing long-term contracts for power, including those from out of state, unless they emit less than 1,000 pounds of CO2/MWh of electricity produced. While the law does not specifically bar coal-fired generation, the limit is set low enough to rule out all coal-power plants. A modern, highly efficient natural gas-fired plant barely would qualify. These measures, plus the new carbon-cap law going into effect by 2012, have sent utilities—large and small, private as well as municipal or city-owned—into a frenzy as they scramble to find alternatives to coal to meet their future demand.
Utilities showed strong gains last year, but other industries are gaining ground.
Dean C. Maschoff, Gordon Hilbun, and Jason K. D’Souza
The Dow Jones Utilities Index posted another year of solid gains in 2006. As might be expected, in connection with both the near-term and longer-term historical investor performance of the utility sector, there’s a story within the story. Further, this performance history provides a context against which the impact of both current and emerging issues can be assessed.
The diversity in customers’ appetites should be considered by more utilities when pricing products.
Michael T. O’Sheasy
Does the volatility of the customer’s energy cost create much concern regarding the impact on the customer’s core business? One customer may be very comfortable taking on significant electricity cost risk to obtain electricity price and subsequent bill concessions. Another may be willing and anxious to pay a premium to accept less electricity cost risk than normal. Both of these customers, and all the customers in between, should be offered products that fit their needs, and these products should be priced upon sound risk fundamentals.
The D.C. Circuit once observed that the Mobile-Sierra doctrine is “refreshingly simple.” In fact, however, the doctrine has become incredibly nuanced and complex over time. In two concurrently issued decisions, the court has discovered new prerequisites to the initial application of the doctrine, changed the independent “public interest” review standard into a presumption, and has jettisoned that presumption entirely when contract prices are too high as opposed to too low.
IT officers are getting more efficient, but guess what keeps them up at night?
Ever-present security concerns are keeping utility chief information officers up at night. With their IT budgets under constraints in a back-to-basics era, four CIOs speak out about their concerns over funding, staffing, and the future.
In the minds of many policy-makers, DR has become associated with rate shocks, rate volatility, unpredictability, and loss of control over energy costs—the very things DR was designed to overcome. What can be done to change this?
Everyone is in favor of more demand response, but little gets delivered when system operators need it the most.
Scott Neumann, Fereidoon Sioshansi, Ali Vojdani, and Gaymond Yee
Despite overwhelming theoretical and empirical evidence, we aren’t seeing more DR when it is needed most—during emergency periods. The reasons boil down to two obstacles, both of which must be addressed before widespread DR implementation can move forward.
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