Calendar of Events

Nov 24, 2014 | Washington, DC
Dec 08, 2014 to Dec 09, 2014 | Washington, DC
Jan 14, 2015 to Jan 16, 2015 | San Diego, CA

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Public Utilities Reports

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Public Power: An Inexpensive Insurance Policy Against Consolidation

Alan Richardson

An Editorial Response:

Some critics wants PMAs out of the electric business. But that could leave market power to a few, large monopolies.

Department of Energy Secretary Federico Peña observed in an address at the recent annual meeting of the Edison Electric Institute: "The [electric utility] industry is incredibly diverse, with investor-owned utilities, municipalities, cooperatives, the federal power system, independent power producers, marketers and others.

States OK Telephone Industry Consolidation

Phillip S. Cross

State regulators in New Jersey, New York and California have recently approved mergers of local exchange and long-distance telephone carriers operating within those states that are part of larger interstate and international consolidations.

NYNEX/Bell Atlantic. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has approved the merger of two major local-exchange carrier holding companies, NYNEX Corp. and Bell Atlantic Corp.

Perspective

James A. Montanye

Does a monopolist aim to maximize profit, or simply to hide from the antitrust laws?

AT&T's absolute monopoly in the switched long-distance telephone market ended in 1976 when MCI rolled out its Execunet service. Twenty years later economists still question whether AT&T can influence the market price of long-distance services.

Recent empirical studies are split on the question, sometimes finding AT&T has considerable market power, and sometimes finding it has none.

It appears that economists studying the long-distance industry may be misinterpreting the historical record.

People

Edison International elected former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher to its board and its utility company's board, Southern California Edison. Christopher was elected chair of the executive committees of both boards. Howard P. Allen retired as chair and CEO.

John T. Coughlin, former Wisconsin Public Service commissioner, was elected chair of the PJM Interconnection L.L.C.

Former U.S. Department of State Legal Adviser Conrad K. Harper was elected to the board of both Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., and Public Service Electric and Gas Co.

Does Activity-Based Cost Management Have Any Relevance for Electricity?

Sidney J. Baxendale, and Michael J. Spurlock

When viewed as serving market segments, utilities differ little from manufacturing companies, where most costs are shared among products and processes.

Activity-based cost management has had a tremendous impact on manufacturing enterprises; and its use has spread to some service industries such as banking, insurance and health care. ABCM encompasses two well-known management concepts: activity-based costing and activity-based management. Now that electric utilities are gearing up for competition, it is time to ask if ABCM has any relevance in the public utility industry.

People

El Paso Energy Marketing hired Kathy Eisbrenner as senior v.p. Eisbrenner previously was with LG&E Natural Inc.

Cameron Raether, XENERGY senior consultant, was elected to the board of the Power Association of Northern California. Raether serves as chair on several boards and specializes in market evaluations for large electric and natural gas end users.

Robert G. Edwards was elected v.p. at Columbia Division of SCANA Energy Marketing Inc. Edwards joined SCANA in 1992 as a gas sales representative and has held various marketing positions.

The Next Convergence: Energy, Telecommunications and Internal Infrastructure

Vinod K. Dar

s The technology is digital.

s The medium is cyberspace. The product is a strategic system for billing, collection and customer services (BCCS) that integrates knowledge and choice through an automated customer interface.

The impending obliteration of the business boundaries between the gas, electric and other energy industries will launch a series of convergent waves of change. Executives, regulators, legislators, investors and, naturally, consumers must ride this wave over the next 10 to 15 years.

Washington Briefs

FERC Gives Guidance To Foreign Affiliates. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Jan. 15 denied a petition by British Columbia Power Exchange Corp. (Powerex), the power marketing affiliate of British Columbia Hydro and Canada-utility Power Authority (BC Hydro) to sell power at market-based rates.

The order marked the first time the FERC showed how it will apply Order 888's open-access requirements to foreign utility affiliates (Docket No. ER97-556-000).

"I look forward to Powerex taking another run at this issue," says Commissioner James Hoecker.

Perspective

Alexander J. Black

Prospects look good for cheaper, independent electrical power in Ontario. The market is forcing an end to the current impasse on energy policy. Reforms are apt to include "wholesale access," which should arrive in the province before the year is out. Otherwise, Ontario may lose jobs to neighboring provinces and states.

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

Prometheus paid dearly when he stole fire from the gods and gave it to man, but his courage paid off. Fire now belongs to the people. So should electricity, says New York state Judge Joseph Harris, of Albany, who ruled last fall that state regulators could force open New York's electric industry, but warned against hidden favoritism:

"Prometheus," wrote Harris, "in breaking the monopoly of the gods and by giving electrical energy to mankind ... [should] not be demeaned by a mere transfer of that monopoly to the lords of industry.

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