Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 1997

Off Peak

Competition draws Christians, conspiracy theorists.

SO, WHO WANTS TO COMPETE AGAINST THE LOCAL UTILITIES? In most of the country, potential competitors tend to fall into three categories: (1) traditional utilities from within or nearby the affected state that wants to expand into foreign service territories; (2) unregulated subsidiaries of traditional utilities; or (3) power marketers and/or aggregators. In California, however, it's more of a mixed bag.

Paine Webber Reassesses Lure of Stocks

Electric utilities that may not appear attractive on a "standalone basis" could become attractive takeover targets because of their location, according to PaineWebber's Electric Utility Monthly Industry Update.

The company pointed to the recent failed attempt by CalEnergy to acquire New York State Electric and Gas. PaineWebber noted that, at the time of the attempted takeover, NYSEG was not a favored stock. In fact, NYSEG was not on PaineWebber's list of possible takeover targets.

PaineWebber said the strategic location of NYSEG appeared to be the key factor in the attempt.

NY PSC Staff Envisions Future of Gas

The staff of the New York Public Service Commission has asked for public comment on its report, which found the most effective way to establish competition in natural gas supply is to separate the merchant and distribution functions.

The report said non-regulated entities would provide all future merchant functions. These entities will share the supplier of last resort obligations along with local distribution companies and will share in costs of social programs.

Perspective

We won't move to credit cards until our customers demand the option.

EVERY DAY, CUSTOMERS OF PUBLIC utilities ask the same question: "If I can buy my gasoline, grocery, medicines and all other necessities with plastic, then why can't I pay for my electricity, water, gas and telephone bills that way?"

Public utilities (em except long-distance telephone companies (em have yet to enter full-blown competition. When they do, utilities should decide whether to pursue the credit card option.

V