AS NEW ENERGY VENTURES, LLC EXPLAINS IN ITS PROMOtional literature, it took a long time in California for electricity competition to move from the category of "wacky idea" to widespread acceptance.
But that was before the California electric market opened in April, and before NEV had formed its New Energy Buyers' Alliance, a consortium of clients for whom NEV buys wholesale energy. The alliance includes associations like the California Retailers Association, Western Growers Association and the Independent Colleges of Southern California. Among its corporate members the alliance counts AlliedSignal, Inc., Georgia-Pacific Corp., Ralphs Grocery Co., Robinsons-May and Sumitomo Life Realty.
Michael R. Peevey, president of NEV, touts his company as an electricity retailer that is free to buy wholesale wherever it can cut the best deal (em whether in an established spot market or through a bilateral contract with an individual trader or power producer. Peevey, who in a former life was president of SCEcorp and Southern California Edison Co., believes that NEV customers can beat the price of electricity otherwise available through the California Power Exchange.
But information services plays an important role as well. Peevey claims to offer billing and energy management services, using the Internet as a gateway. In almost all cases, a customer must replace its existing meter. NEV's billing and energy information system requires a meter than can track energy use hour-by-hour, and that can also communicate with a remote computer system. NEV says it is looking at an investment of $860 per meter, which it deems "small" in relation to the possible magnitude of energy savings.