Phil Hanser, Jose Wharton, and Peter Fox-Penner
The electric industry hasn't seen so much upheaval since Thomas Edison threw the switch at the Pearl Street Station. Full retail access to competitive markets in generation and supply will challenge traditional ways of doing business. But no change will prove more dramatic for electric utilities than setting a competitive price (em that most fundamental of business decisions.
In anticipation of competition, utilities have been experimenting to discern what forms of the "product" (em electric power (em customers might want, and at what prices. One such experiment is real-time pricing.
Lori A. Burkhart
AEP Communications Inc., the new telecommunications arm of American Electric Power Inc., has agreed with Sprint Communications Inc. to jointly construct a 150-mile fiber-optic line between Charleston, W. Va., and Roanoke, Va.
AEP and Sprint will share the expenses of building the fiber-optic line. The new line will allow AEP to provide its parent company with network upgrades, while Sprint will add alternate routing and additional capacity between the two cities. Construction begins this spring. (em LB
Four U.S., Canadian and British organization formed a $5.3 million venture to develop ultrasonic tools for detecting stress corrosion in natural gas an liquid pipelines. The consortium includes the Gas Research Institute, British Gas plc, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, and PRC International. The new device will allow inspection of a wider range of gas pipelines. Field testing was expected to begin in 1998.
Conoco Global Power, Inc. and Western Resources' The Wing Group are among investors in a 160-megawatt (MW), natural gas-fired power plant in Columbia.
Phillip S. Cross
A federal court blocks FCC's "TELRIC" cost rule, but some states endorse it anyway.
With the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) having lost a major court battle last fall, the state public utility commission (PUCs) have taken the lead in the deregulation of local telephone service promised a year ago when President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (the "Act").
Some states have opened generic investigations; others have chosen to proceed case-by-case in individual arbitration proceedings.
John L. Domagalski, Agustin J. Ros, and Philip R. O'Connor
Which matters most: Cost? Price? Sales? Regulation?
Many investors no longer think of electric utility stocks primarily as dividend-rich, income-oriented investments. Instead, they have begun to consider new criteria in evaluating utility stocks (em criteria that might help explain some of the variations in equity price performance now seen among various utility companies.
Southern Communications Services, Inc., which recently entered the wireless communications market, has begun to market products and services under the name of its parent, Southern Company. Southern also is parent to Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power, and Savannah Electric.
Gulf Power, meanwhile, signed a contract with Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. for two-way energy management applications. Some 40,000 homes will be fitted with the interactive systems over eight years.
American National Power announced three executive changes: Joseph E. Cofelice, senior v.p., was given the added post of COO; Jim Murray, senior v.p., was given additional duties of CFO; and David L. Coke, director-asset optimization, was promoted to operations v.p.
Peter W. Delaney, a cost-cutting commissioner in the New York Office of General Services, was appointed senior v.p.-business services at the New York Power Authority. The Authority also promoted Gerard V. Loughran, a principal attorney, to v.p.-human resources.
The Institute of Gas Technology (IGT) elected Roger A.
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
Talk runs gamut from "rocket docket" to "Just go slow." A merger announcement kickstarted NARUC's annual conference last year. This year, in San Francisco, there was little difference in conference chatter. Only this time, MCI Communications Corp. and British Telecommunications Plc were the suitors, in a $20 billion corporate marriage.
Regulators had better get used to the "M" word, noted speaker John E. Hayes, Jr., chairman of Western Resources Corp.
Peter R. Thomas was hired from Sprint as v.p. of American Electric Power's new communications subsidiary, AEP Communications, Inc.
Central Illinois Light Co. hired Todd Severson as human resources v.p. He comes from Remco, a subsidiary of Thorn Americas.
Scott A. Neitzel, a member of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission since January 1992, has resigned. Neitzel chaired the PSC's electric utility industry restructuring committee.
Ohio Edison Co.'s board of directors elected chairman and CEO Willard R. Holland as its chairman.
Bruce W. Radford
Ever since word hit the street last July that Portland General Electric Co. (PGE) would merge with gas industry giant Enron, the news has been rather one-sided. It's been "Enron this" and "Enron that." From reading the papers one might think Enron, with its strong reputation as a commodities trader, was buying an entire electric utility simply to take a bigger position on the NYMEX futures market.