SINCE 1994, UTILITY ALLIANCES HAVE DOUBLED ANNUALLY: from 50 that year to more than 300 in 1997.
No longer is an alliance a two-company endeavor. Today's combos involve many partners and objectives, adding skills or products, spreading risk, increasing territory or creating common standards.
According to Andersen Consulting, multi-partner alliances account for an increasing percentage of all utility alliances, from 17 percent in 1994 to 50 percent in 1997.
The firm suggests that these utilities are most innovative and aggressive in pursuing alliances: Entergy Corp., Duke Power Co., KN Energy Inc., and PacifiCorp.
Looking across the "value chain," which tracks the movement from integrated monopolies to an alliance of advantaged competitors, Andersen cites four successful unions:
• KN Energy and PacifiCorp, together through Simple Choice, offer communications and other services;
• Sprint and a NorAm Energy Corp. affiliate were test-marketing Sprint services to NorAm commercial-
• Cargill, one of the world's largest commodity traders, and WPL Holdings Inc., provide wholesale trading services to WPL's investor-owned, municipal and co-op utility customers; and
• Columbia Gas teamed with Saabre, an American Airlines spin-off, to develop and schedule reservations to transport natural gas.
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