Competition draws Christians, conspiracy theorists.
SO, WHO WANTS TO COMPETE AGAINST THE LOCAL UTILITIES? In most of the country, potential competitors tend to fall into three categories: (1) traditional utilities from within or nearby the affected state that wants to expand into foreign service territories; (2) unregulated subsidiaries of traditional utilities; or (3) power marketers and/or aggregators. In California, however, it's more of a mixed bag.
At press time, 123 companies had registered as electric service providers, or ESPs, with the California Public Utilities Commission. Companies from 27 states and the District of Columbia had signed up since registration began July 1, with about 65 percent based in California. Businesses can provide electric service on Jan. 1, 1998. While the majority of registered providers are utilities and power marketers, a handful can't be easily pegged.
Christian Energy Electrical Co. formed "in order that Christians and Friends of the Kingdom can get into the business of providing first-rate" utility service to low-income and inner-city customers. This is according to CEO Charles Linder Floyd, a pastor and former Texas oil and gas business entrepreneur who also has worked as a journeyman electrician. "Our message will be, 'Don't let¼ anyone take you back to Egypt.'" Floyd hopes to have 50,000 customers come Jan. 1, and to later become involved in generation, perhaps creating a windmill farm.
San Diego Telephone Co. is exploring its options, although CEO Mike Brown expects the company will be ready to enter the fray Jan. 1.
International Communications Network, headquartered in Columbia, Md., plans to be a "customer acquisition company" (em an aggregator (em for clients. COO Stephen Feinman won't name names, however; negotiations are ongoing.
The Green Power Connection Inc., in Bend, Ore., as its name implies, will offer Californians electricity solely from renewable resources, according to Mark Albert, vice president. The company will provide geothermal energy through Vulcan Power Co., its parent, and may become a marketer for wind and even solar energy, if the latter is financially feasible. How many customers does the company hope to have? That's proprietary, Albert says.
The Enterprise Zone Inc., however, hopes to get 1 million small-business and residential customers, says CEO James E. Edgerly. All fuel types will be part of the mix for this Oakland, Calif., company, which will be bidding for Pacific Gas & Electric plants. The company was born out of Reagan-era enterprise zones "to bring emancipation for inner cities and Indian reservations." Edgerly, an economist, says several company employees have "enormous experience" in the utility world.
Aliso Viejo Golf Club Joint Venture. The hotel and golf resort project in the planning stages, plans on purchasing energy only for itself, AMH Attorney Catherine Briggs says.
Richard F. Sowinski, son Stephen and daughter Michelle A. Odell were three of five registered as ESPs. Richard Sowinski won't reveal his business plans, only that he's looking at entering the electricity and natural gas business. Sowinski senior, who has studied contamination in natural gas for 25 years, published an "open letter" on the subject this spring in cyberspace (www.gascape.org). He credits that letter for the resignations of two industry executives.
Here's an excerpt from the letter: "Do you know why God made our second toe longer than the rest? It's to remind us we're human¼ We amble along avoiding most of the obstacles in our path. The contaminated gas issue is such a stumble made by an industry that represents the best energy source available. When you stub your toe, we, the consumer suffer the pain."
Articles found on this page are available to Internet subscribers only. For more information about obtaining a username and password, please call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-368-5001.