In the information age, big growth doesn’t come from putting steel in the ground; it comes from innovating and creating value. But if electricity customers care only about reliability and price, how can utilities create real value that didn’t exist before?
Why a risk-hedging product for small customers isn't the gamble you may think.
Michael O’Sheasy and Mike Becker
Some innovators in the electric industry recently began offering financial hedging products that absorb risk from large customers. Why not offer this kind of protection to customers with small electric loads? Protecting customers from price risk is the essence of flat pricing, and it is where a company can step in and capitalize.
In fending off the special interests, Congress spawned new inequities.
The fourth anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 most likely will be celebrated with more groans than cheers. The law set out to create "a pro-competitive, deregulatory national policy framework designed to accelerate rapidly private sector deployment of advanced telecommunications and information services to all Americans by opening all telecommunications markets to competition,"[Fn.1] but that objective has not been fulfilled.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross, and Carl J. Levesque
Studies and Reports
Natural Gas Retail Choice. Utility affiliates hold large market shares in natural gas customer choice programs, raising questions about the extent of true competition, according to a study released on Dec. 15 by the U.S. General Accounting Office. Participation varies by region, however, according to the report, "Energy Deregulation - Status of Natural Gas Customer Choice Programs."
In Pennsylvania, for example, three out of four programs showed very high shares for utility affiliates. The Equitable Gas Co.
IS IT A FAD OR BUSINESS? According to a recent SmartMoney %n1%n article, about 3 million customers traded $120 million in securities on the Internet last year, generating $700 million in commissions for online trading firms.
While this sum marks just 5 percent of total commissions for securities trading, it accounts for a healthy 30 percent of commissions for discount brokerage. Online trading firms, nonexistent several years ago, now total more than 50.
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