MANY STATES ARE CONSIDERING THE IDEA OF opening billing and metering to competition at traditional distribution companies. %n1%n Electric utility executives can no longer assume that a regulated monopoly distribution company, or "disco," will retain control of both the "wires" function and billing and metering services. %n2%n
This new prospect raises questions: Should a disco seek to retain billing and metering as a regulated monopoly, complete with the obligation to serve all customers requesting electric connections? Or should the company ask its legislators and regulators to remove the burden of the obligation to serve and allow the utility to compete freely for profitable segments of the retail billing and metering market?
Utilities should evaluate these questions in terms of achieving long-term profitability for stockholders: What's the best environment to boost disco profits and enhance the brand image or customer loyalty? Whichever the future (em whether billing and metering services are regulated or deregulated (em distribution utilities will face potential advantages and disadvantages. A few simple guidelines can help a disco choose whether to abandon markets for billing and metering services, or to retain and grow that share.