Top executives and regulators discuss European liberalization and U.S. investment opportunities overseas.
Mark Hand is senior editor at Public Utilities Fortnightly.
The regulatory environment has never been better for U.S. companies eager to invest in energy markets in Europe and the United Kingdom. Ask any international energy executive and you'll hear applause for the dogged efforts of European Union (EU) member nations in building a strong foundation for electric and gas industry competition.
European parliament members clearly are determined to harmonize the regulatory framework across the borders of each of the 15 member nations of the EU. This is music to the ears of many U.S. industry executives who have grown weary in their attempts to generate the same enthusiasm for national energy restructuring from the U.S. Congress.
Liberalization still may be a work in progress in Europe, but at least the EU has adopted measures authorizing the creation of competitive energy markets by 2005. No such certainty exists in the United States.
Some entrenched U.S. energy companies and their allies in state capitals still grow upset when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) or any other federal bureaucracy dares to tread in territory the states deem their own.