In our vision of the future, today's distribution function will be divided into two companies (em a poles and wire function and a merchant function. The merchant company would provide value-added products and services to the customer. We have used credit cards, branding, and other marketing gimmicks to sell our services, particularly demand-side management (DSM). In the future, however, I think there will be greater emphasis on the types of energy-purchasing alternatives we provide. Pricing options are one offering that we would expect to expand. The options could range from real-time pricing and green rates to negotiated fixed-fee prices.
Once merchants become competitive with one another for all customers, as we expect that they will, they will offer products and services well beyond our ability to imagine today. Information technology (IT) availability will increase, giving us more opportunity for two-way communications with customers. Obvious examples include real-time electronic billing information and remote energy management. As IT innovation occurs, we will seek ways in which to use that innovation to add value to the customer relationship.