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Fortnightly Magazine - October 2010

Transactions

(October 2010) Blackstone and NRG acquire Dynegy assets; Constellation grabs Boston Generating; Exelon gets Deere Renewables; plus details on nearly $7 billion in bond offerings during the month of August, including: a two-tranche, $2 billion issue by Chesapeake; NRG’s $1.1 billion flotation; and major issues from Sempra, Edison International, FPL, Detroit Edison, Dominion and others.

Dividend Debacle

Investors get caught in partisan crossfire.

Michael T. Burr

Investor-owned utilities get caught in the partisan crossfire, as candidates engage in a national food fight over tax policies.

Letters to the Editor

(October 2010) AWEA’s manager of transmission policy refutes author Robert Blohm’s assertion that renewable power exacerbates America’s growing problems with frequency response.

People

(October 2010) Southern Company rearranges executive suites upon Ratcliffe’s retirement; Constellation hires new chief marketing officer; TECO names Ramil CEO; plus executive announcements at Black Hills Corp., Cleco, Tres Amigas, Chesapeake Utilities, Exelon, Vectren, and more.

M&A Uptick

Do regulatory and economic trends favor industry mergers?

Douglas G. Green

Now that some new major transactions have emerged, and financial recovery appears slowly moving forward, utility mergers are beginning to appear likely again. Although regulatory hurdles still impede new transactions, some changes at the federal level are reducing concerns about market power and competition. Plus, changing market conditions and new compliance requirements are strengthening the case for scale economics.

One if by Wholesale, Two if by Retail

Which path leads to the smart grid?

Bruce W. Radford

A fierce debate has erupted in the utility policy community, with battle lines drawn within FERC itself. In the effort to improve system efficiency, two competing alternatives stand out: to build the smart grid on large-scale demand response (DR) programs, or to build it around consumer behavior in retail markets.

Back to Business

Utility deals resume after 18 months of austerity.

Michael T. Burr

Utilities are taking advantage of a sweet spot in the capital markets, pre-funding and refinancing at record low rates. But cheap money won’t resolve overhanging uncertainties preventing cap-ex projects and M&A deals. Greater certainty in America’s economic and policy outlook will clear a path for strategic change.

Energy Trading Under Dodd-Frank

Wall Street reform hits the utility business.

Jonathan W. Gottlieb and Nathan E. Endrud

Utilities, long accustomed to regulation by FERC and state PUCs, now face extensive regulation of their energy trading activities by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Under the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act—commonly known as Dodd-Frank—signed into law July 21, 2010, energy swap contracts may be subject to new capital, margin, reporting, business conduct, and other requirements that likely will increase their trading costs and create new compliance concerns.

Utility-Customer Partnerships

Engaging the consumer takes on new meaning.

Lori A. Burkhart

Customer backlash over dynamic pricing and the smart-grid caught the industry unprepared. CIOs and top customer specialists share their strategies for engagement and attaining consumer satisfaction.

ARRA Sunset

A renewable incentive expires with the Treasury grant program.

Philip H. Spector

With incentives under the Treasury grant program set to expire at the end of the year, green-power development once again seems to be entering the bust phase of its perennial boom-bust cycle. Statutory deadlines presage a surge in new construction beginning between now and the end of the year. What happens after that depends on Congress.

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