Bruce W. Radford
I've been learning about venture capital funds for electric utilities. The lesson has run the gamut: from competition to cannibalization; from portfolios to the laws of thermodynamics; from the next new thing to the renaissance of a 19th-century technology.
Some might ask: Isn't venture capital just like gambling? Not so, say execs from two utilities now getting their feet wet in a venture fund. All the same, this story will take us to Atlantic City casinos before it's done.
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
In union circles, they call it "burial insurance." That apt phrase denotes the severance, early retirement and re-training packages negotiated for veteran utility workers sideswiped by a changing market.
So far, labor has won some insurance: through legislation in California and in Maine; through a commission order in Massachusetts; and a pending settlement agreement in New York City, prompted by a commission order.
Labor lost hard in Pennsylvania and in Rhode Island, however. Worker protections weren't built into restructuring decisions in those states.
Lori M. Rodgers
Pocketbook issues, like all others, tend to split along political lines.
Meeting on June 12, Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) and members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee focused for the first time on what customers really think about choosing their own energy vendor.
Nevertheless, despite the shift toward pocketbook issues, and away from so-called "inside-the-Beltway" concerns, the testimony came largely from organized consumer groups, and it appeared split down political lines: urban vs. rural, private vs. public, business vs. residential.
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has elected Susan F. Clark, commissioner of the Florida Public Service Commission, as its representative on the North American Electric Reliability Council. Clark has served as Florida's commissioner since 1991. Commissioner of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Allyson K. Duncan, also was elected to serve as a NARUC representative. Duncan will represent NARUC on the advisory council to the board of directors of EPRI.
Tony A. Prophet, former new business development v.p.
Appearing as tree huggers, utilities draw skeptical reaction from environmentalists.
At first glance, it looks like the same old story: Environmentalists versus utilities. But this time, the utilities are the ones fighting for the forests (em with a twist.
Utilities, major producers of carbon dioxide, believe they've found a cost-effective way to offset emissions through carbon sequestration, or sinks, which means converting pastures to forests or maintaining old-growth groves.
But environmentalists call it an easy way out.
ABB Systems Control sold an OASIS gateway system to Cinergy Corp. The system is configured to communicate with the ECAR OASIS node, handling TTC and ATC calculations, transmission service requests and other required transmission path information. Cinergy also bought an ABB enhanced interchange scheduling system, ISplus(.
Northern State Power Co.'s Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant in Minneapolis, Minn. was expected to start up in July or August after a May 9 shutdown to correct a design problem.
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.
Lori M. Rodgers
How one Va. city squeezed through the cracks
Tennessee Valley Authority Chair Craven Crowell told the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association annual meeting in May: "We need to make sure our customers get the best prices and best service available in the electric power industry." But one customer's attempt to get lower prices has been 10 years in the making (em and TVA won't be selling to them for much longer.
Earlier this year, the Bristol, Va., Utility Board voted to end a tradition of 45 years of wholesale power purchases.
The California Public Utilities Commission elected members to two boards overseeing energy efficiency and low-income programs. The board for energy efficiency programs members are: Acting Chair Sara Steck Myers, CEERT; Dave Gamson, CPUC commissioner advisor; Michael Messenger, California Energy Commission; Peter Miller, Natural Resources Defense Council; Mark Thayer, San Diego State University; Ortensia Lopez, Greenlining Institute; Charles Goldman, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; Michael Shame, UCAN; and Don Schultz, CPUC Office of Ratepayer Advocates.
Hossein Haeri, M. Sami Khawaja, and Matei Perussi
Do mergers and "critical mass" really make a difference? The answer, it seems, is yes.
To become more competitive, U.S. electric utilities have embarked on a quest in recent years to improve operational efficiency and factor productivity. The question is: Are utilities making progress? And, which companies have gained a competitive edge? Which have not?
Industry analysts have long argued that given the structure of the markets they serve and their cost-based, rate-setting procedures, electric utilities tend toward monopolistic behavior.