A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of one of those law firm newsletters, this one published quarterly by Reid & Priest, titled the Utility Telecommunications Advisor. On the front page, I noticed a headline, "Shock to the System: Electric Utilities Enter Information Transport." The newsletter went on to describe various telecom ventures underway at some 30 electric utilities, including American Electric Power, Central & South West, Con Ed, Duke, Entergy, Hydro-Quebec, Pacific Gas & Electric, PacifiCorp, Southern California Edison, and UtiliCorp.
That got me thinking: How does Reid & Priest gather such information? How many utilities does it represent?
A few days later I found myself at a luncheon sitting next to the CEO of an electric utility from way out West. He said, "Bruce, you know who's going to get hurt in all this deregulation? It's the law firms. Think about the big utility practice firms, like LeBoeuf, Lamb; Morgan, Lewis; Reid & Priest. When utilities start competing, the lawyers will end up on both sides of the table. They'll have to give up some of those clients."
On March 15, your Editor headed downtown to the Edison Electric Institute for a computer simulation for the utility press on how the electric transmission system works. The crowd proved too large for any of us novices to take the controls, but David Owens, Mary Kenkel, and other EEI staffers put on a good show, complete with Windows-based software that offered a mockup of a typical regional transmission grid (em showing plants, loads, busbars, lines, and wheeling paths. The simulator gave real-time updates of plant output, line loads, loop flows, and when a transmission line might burn out.