Suddenly, the U.K. electric industry holds more than academic interest for U.S. utilities. Up to now, it did not appear that many American utility executives had studied the British privatization. But the ongoing attempt at takeover of the U.K.'s South Western Electricity (SWE) by its American counterpart, The Southern Co., ups the ante considerably. If it comes to pass, Southern's acquisition of SWE will tap directly into the U.K. industry and bring real-world experience home to the States.In the United Kingdom, the national grid allowed the old government-run Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) to become the privatized and competitive Electric Supply Industry (ESI). Spanning the length and breadth of the country, this high-voltage transmission network provides a common interconnection between generating facilities in all parts of the land and consumers in all of the 12 regions. The national grid is managed and run by National Grid Company (NGC), which is held by the 12 regional electricity companies (RECs). While NGC has not yet been privatized, it has been a major factor in the separation of the industry into generators (National Power, PowerGen, and U.S. independents such as ENRON and Mission Energy) and distributors (the 12 RECs, one being SWE).