Lori M. Rodgers
A state-by-state look at retail competition.
RHODE ISLAND'S CUSTOMER CHOICE PROGRAM FOR LARGE-industrial and government consumers is five months old. California consumers will see retail choice on Jan. 1. New York, Illinois, Idaho and Washington have pilot programs well under way. And a statewide pilot program was set to begin this month in Pennsylvania.
Yet retail choice may prove vulnerable in New Hampshire (em the one state that has shown the greatest commitment to retail choice.
The board of the California ISO selected Jeffrey D. Tranen as its first CEO. Tranen is former president of the New England Power Co., senior v.p. of the New England Electric System and chair of NEPOOL. The ISO starts operation Jan. 1, 1998.
Charles F. Gay, Ph.D., former director of the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, was hired as president and CEO of ASE Americas Inc. Klaus Albrecht, former president and CEO, will serve on ASE's board and as senior v.p.-business development.
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.
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.
Can utilities learn to deliver?
Selling electricity is not like selling a pair of sneakers. Electricity is a product consumers can neither see, feel nor smell. Try it on? Go for a test drive? Not hardly. So how does an electric utility make its product appealing to consumers?
Some say it all comes down to price. A penny saved is a penny earned. But what about tenths of a penny? Do consumers know or even care what they pay for a kilowatt-hour? Just keeping the lights on seems enough for most.
Anticipating the opening of the retail electricity market, MidAmerican Energy Co.
Zond Development Corp. will supply MidAmerican Energy Co. with 45 MW of wind-generated power per month for 20 years. Terms of the agreement were not released, but Zond will begin supplying energy within three years of regulatory approval. The contract helps fulfill the utility's alternate energy requirements under Iowa law. Zond will generate the power from about 150 wind turbines planned for Buena Vista County. The windmills will interconnect with the MidAmerican transmission system at a nearby substation.
George R. Hall, and Richard J. Pierce, Jr.
New legislation would tackle the most difficult problem (em low load factors for small-volume customers.
We commend the Natural Gas Competition and Deregulation Act, SB 215, passed by the Georgia General Assembly in March. (Governor Zell Miller was expected to sign the bill in April.) The Georgia legislation envisions a new framework for regulating the retail gas market.
Lori A. Burkhart
Ohio Edison Company and Centerior Energy Corp. announced an agreement September 17 on a tax-free, stock-for-stock merger to form a new holding company, FirstEnergy Corp., worth about $4.8 billion, based on stock prices that closed several days earlier.
The news came a month after two other merger deals were announced in mid-August: 1) Atlantic Energy, Inc. and Delmarva Power & Light Co. ($2.2 billion), and 2) Houston Industries Inc. and NorAm Energy Corp. ($3.8 billion). NorAm is the nation's third-largest U.S. natural gas utility.
Ronald L. Adams, an executive from Transcontinental Gas Pipeline, was named president of CNG Transmission Corp. He replaces L.J. Timms, Jr., who retired.
Lee Elder was hired by GE Nuclear Energy as manager of market development. Elder was g.m. of nuclear marketing and technology for Black & Veatch and started a joint venture between the two companies to service boiling water reactors.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has hired Richard L. Heck, a former U.S.
Michael J. Hamilton
Some shareholders do find bottom-line value
in a "marriage of convenience."
With six merger and acquisition (M&A) deals announced between May 1995 and January 1996, and three more so far this year, the long-predicted consolidation of the electric utility industry is taking hold. At least 23 utilities, with business-combination transactions pending, are part of the frenetic domestic M&A activity that has swept the industry.