Bruce W. Radford
My electric company, Potomac Electric Power Co., has announced a joint venture with RCN Corp. of Princeton, N.J., to offer local and long-distance telephone service to callers in Washington, D.C., and nearby areas, plus cable television and high-speed connections to the Internet. With stockholder money, PEPCO would compete head-on against Bell Atlantic, which won approval from the Federal Communications Commission on Aug. 14 for its $25-billion merger with NYNEX.
Reporting the story, The Washington Post quoted PEPCO President John M.
Lori A. Burkhart
Two California watchdog groups, The Utility Reform Network and Utility Consumers Action Network, have filed a joint protest at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission against the proposed structure of California's independent system operator and power exchange (Docket Nos. EC96-19-003 and ER96-1663-003).
The groups believe the proposed structures would hurt small consumers. They noted that although small consumers use about one-third of the state's electricity, they only have two votes out of 26 in both the PX and the ISO.
James A. Montanye
Does a monopolist aim to maximize profit, or simply to hide from the antitrust laws?
AT&T's absolute monopoly in the switched long-distance telephone market ended in 1976 when MCI rolled out its Execunet service. Twenty years later economists still question whether AT&T can influence the market price of long-distance services.
Recent empirical studies are split on the question, sometimes finding AT&T has considerable market power, and sometimes finding it has none.
It appears that economists studying the long-distance industry may be misinterpreting the historical record.
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
Enova/PE merger finds
California utilities learning
how to "micro-unbundle."
here's a meter war ticking away out West, pitting natural gas against electricity.
Enova Corp. is set to acquire Southern California Gas Co. through a merger with the gas utility's parent company, Pacific Enterprises. This strategy raises a tantalizing question: Can the new, merged company sell electricity "through" SoCalGas meters, using customer contacts on the gas side to grab market share in electricity from Southern California Edison, whose territory overlaps that of SoCalGas?
Vinod K. Dar
s The technology is digital.
s The medium is cyberspace. The product is a strategic system for billing, collection and customer services (BCCS) that integrates knowledge and choice through an automated customer interface.
The impending obliteration of the business boundaries between the gas, electric and other energy industries will launch a series of convergent waves of change. Executives, regulators, legislators, investors and, naturally, consumers must ride this wave over the next 10 to 15 years.
Kent Knutson and Chris Seiple
Competitive Power Markets
Put Capacity at Risk
Generation markets in the U.S. are about to go through a period of radical transformation as full competition is introduced to the industry. One of the largest impacts of this transformation will be the creation of a more efficient generation industry. According to a new study by Resource Data International, the drive towards increased efficiency will result in the premature shutdown of some high-cost, inefficient power plants.
Our analysis starts by analyzing the costs of every utility owned power plant in the country.
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.
Gordon L. Weil
With its membership opened, NEPOOL sets a transmission tariff, but still must develop competitive markets. In 1993, after a series of attempts going back as far as 1971, the New England Power Pool failed to reach agreement among its members for a regional transmission arrangement. But destiny then took over (em with help from the newly enacted Energy Policy Act (em to lead pool members back to the bargaining table. Finally, on Sept. 30, 1996, NEPOOL announced that its executive committee had agreed in principle on restructuring the pool.
Phillip S. Cross
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has decided that Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania, Inc., a local-exchange telephone carrier (LEC), should reduce rates for its residential digital high-speed service offerings. The residential Integrated Service Digital Network (ISDN) service enables users to access and send voice, data, and imaging services at the same time over their telephone lines.
Joseph F. Schuler, Jr.
Once burned, but twice eager, utilities reprise their 1980s-era strategy, this time in the telephone business.
"It's not like they're going to open a pharmacy. It is directly related in some way, or at least arguably."
Earlier this year, 15 utilities grabbed the brass ring: a full-blown chance to enter the telecom business.