President and CEO, Portland General Electric
Interview by Richard Stavros
“I think in our business, meeting higher customer expectations and staying focused on that all of the time will ultimately serve your shareholders.”
Does too much risk management mean leaving money on the table?
Why do energy merchants or those utilities with merchant power divisions obsess over “selling” their upside? These companies feel compelled to show steady, predictable profit streams to both the street and their stakeholders, despite the fact that they operate within one of the most volatile markets in the world. Typically, their method of achieving earnings consistency centers on the execution of complicated purchase and sales agreements that effectively lock in the price of fuel and electricity. Don’t these contracts really just eliminate the potential positive return an energy merchant strives to achieve in the first place?
Should FERC look to all Securities and Exchange Commission precedent for a model?
New regulations from FERC to prevent energy industry market manipulation take deep root in securities industry law. Modeled in part on the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act), the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) outlaws direct or indirect use or employment of manipulative or deceptive devices or contrivances in energy industries FERC regulates under the Natural Gas Act (NGA), the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 (NGPA), and the Federal Power Act (FPA).
High power bills, with the lifting of rate freezes, give pause to politicians.
By Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
The Baltimore Sun recently carried a very poignant letter from one of its local readers— a letter that utility executives might well take to heart. Appearing under the title, “Energy Advice Cruel to Poorer Readers,” the letter took offense at an article that trivialized the effect of the huge increase in local electric bills (35 to 72 percent) expected this July with the lifting of a long-standing retail rate freeze.
Will the deal with FPL serve the best interests of ratepayers?
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
Even as many hope that repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA) will lead to more efficient and rational corporate structures, they also fear that repeal could foster irrational exuberance, with mergers that fail spectacularly. Maybe that explains why every new utility merger announcement is being met with a much higher level of scrutiny than in past decades.
With increasing unit costs, the financial prospects and credit outlook for many utilities will depend on their success in passing along such costs to consumers.
The utility sector still has excellent access to the capital and credit markets. Yet, it is never safe to assume utilities will continue to enjoy the same low costs of capital. This is particularly true for companies facing compressed margins, regulatory deferrals or disallowances, and rising debt leverage.
In the near future, the majority of investor-owned electric utilities will request, and ultimately win, rate increases. What can utilities do to alter consumer perceptions of higher bills?
Total shareholder return can not only be a measure of past performance, but it can be harnessed as the prime touchstone for planning future performance.
Tim Gardner and Eric Spiegel
TSR is a paradox among financial metrics—dominant in assessments of past performance yet peripheral in plans for future performance. This paradox can be resolved.
Presenting a new management model.
Utility companies are at a crossroads when it comes to managing their pension plans. They must determine the best ways to continue to offer this benefit while controlling the impact these plans have on the overall financial health of the organization.
Ratemaking Special: A survey of recent retail rate cases for electric and gas utilities.
The results of annual survey of rates of return on equity authorized for major electric and natural-gas utilities—based on a sample of the retail rate cases conducted by state public utility commissions—show a vibrant and perhaps growing interest in traditional rate-of-return regulation.