There's a new gunslinger in town, and it's heavyweight PacifiCorp. The Pacific Northwest utility is opening a marketing office in Las Vegas to gain access to large customers that may come up for grabs if retail wheeling comes to Nevada and Southern California. Edison Elizeh, former director of wholesale operations for Nevada Power Co., will run the Las Vegas office, targeting the Nevada market now dominated by Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Resources.
PacifiCorp hopes to take advantage of pending retail-wheeling initiatives in the Nevada legislature that, if passed this spring, will permit large customers to shop for power outside their traditional service territories. Fred Buckman, PacifiCorp president, said his company is closely following the direct-access proposals in California, Nevada, and other western states: "We support initiatives by the states that will result in lower power costs to customers." The utility currently has power sales contracts in California and the desert Southwest that total more than $200 million annually. "This remains one of the fastest-growing areas in the country and we have low-cost power to sell," reads a company statement. The new market would complement PacifiCorp's business in the Pacific Northwest, where peak use occurs during the winter, in contrast to summer peak demand in the Southwest.
PacifiCorp is not alone in opening marketing offices outside traditional service territories. Illinova, an Illinois Power Co. subsidiary, has an office in Salt Lake City, UT; Washington Water Power Co. opened an office in Phoenix, AZ; and CINergy Corp. has moved into Albuquerque, NM.
In response to rumors about a possible merger with Nevada Power, PacifiCorp said, "The company has a policy of not discussing potential strategic alliances (em merger or otherwise." (em LG
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