Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 2003

Commission Watch

The commission tacks a new name onto a familiar concept.


The commission tacks a new name onto a familiar concept.

By now it is old news that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on April 28 back-pedaled on standard market design (SMD), even renaming it the "wholesale power market platform." But SMD is far from dead, as some had wished. Instead, it is merely toned down, bowing to political furor and regional differences.

Business & Money

The collapse of wholesale markets has utilities once again making the purchasing decisions, and taking all the risks.


The collapse of wholesale markets has utilities once again making the purchasing decisions, and taking all the risks.

If a common theme is emerging from the various policy directions across the country, it seems to be that responsibility for supply resources is moving away from open markets and back into the hands of load-serving utilities.

Book Review

<i>A review by Christian Hamaker</i>

What is risk management?

No, it's not a brainteaser. It's the driving question behind , a new book from authors Shirley S. Savage and Peter R. Savage that offers a risk primer for energy company employees and executives.

Technology Corridor

Implementing new credit risk management standards and best practices may require an overhaul of current utility IT systems.


Implementing new credit risk management standards and best practices may require an overhaul of current utility IT systems.

Information overload is a serious risk to the effectiveness of the credit management process, especially as it relates to developing IT systems to implement the recent credit risk standards developed by best practice group, the Committee of Chief Risk Officers (see the CCRO's Credit Risk Management Report, www.ccro.org [Nov. 19, 2002]).

Retail Power: Double Down or Fold?

Utility retail is at a crossroads. Energy executives must decide which path to follow.


Utility retail is at a crossroads. Energy executives must decide which path to follow.

There are only two routes to creating or maintaining shareholder value in competitive retail electricity marketing: double down to grow the business significantly or fold and divest the business from its portfolio. Utilities and their competitive retail affiliates should determine today which of these two strategic bearings they wish to follow. The tentative middle ground of hold is simply a way to postpone the inevitable and erode shareholder value.

The IT Outsourcing Question

The pros and cons of outsourcing utilities' IT functions.


The pros and cons of outsourcing utilities' IT functions.

Utility companies have a lot to think about these days. Whether or not to outsource information technologies (IT) is part of the equation being calculated in the present economy. While some managers feel anxiety at turning over important company functions to outsiders, others see it as an opportunity to free up IT staff for other work. And keeping up with ever-changing technology is a daunting task.

Culture Shock

By 2020, nearly half the workforce will be female and non-white. Are utilities ready?


By 2020, nearly half the workforce will be female and non-white. Are utilities ready?

Utilities, like other businesses, understand that-moral and ethical imperatives aside-a diverse workforce makes their businesses stronger. But at a recent transmission conference in Washington, D.C., the 50-or-so attendees were mostly male (two of the four women in the room were conference organizers), mostly white (two blacks and three or four Asians), and mostly older (half had gray hair).

Frontlines

Meeting tougher CO<sub>2</sub> emissions limits will require deep pockets.

Meeting tougher CO2 emissions limits will require deep pockets.

It's a tough problem that we have less than 22 years to solve. I had the occasion to chat with Dr. Henry R. Linden, Max McGraw Professor of Energy and Power Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, about how the U.S. power industry must face the necessity of sharply reducing its CO2 emissions while having to increase its summer electric generating capacity from 781 GW in 2000 to 1,174 GW in 2025, according to the Energy Information Administration.