Business & Money
Experts debate whether KKR's leveraged buyout of UniSource Energy is right for the industry.
"From a public policy standpoint, should a utility that provides a vital public good be owned by a private group that gains ownership by taking on a high degree of debt (risk)?"
Fortnightly Magazine - February 2004
Utilities are finding strategic benefits in demand-based metering technologies.
It's been years since utilities regarded customers as mere check-writing extensions of their meters. In fact, utilities' information technology focus during the past decade has centered on gaining greater control over customer information. The objective: Focus on-and fill-customer needs. The results are everywhere:
EU nations are taking slow steps toward an integrated energy market, but they are many paces ahead of U.S. efforts.
Despite recent setbacks in establishing an acceptable balance of voting power among member nations, a new constitution for the European Union (EU) is expected to bring together dozens of separate nations into a single economic and political superpower and lead to an interconnected energy market throughout the European continent-one that will eventually stretch from Portugal to the Baltic Sea and from Ireland to Greece and perhaps beyond.
Electricity demand in parts of Europe is on the rise.
The European Union (EU), unlike the United States, enters 2004 with neither a constitution nor a European regulatory agency to oversee the EU's "single market" goals in energy. The EU, however, faces many cross-border issues affecting trade in electricity and natural gas, just as the United States does. While the member countries of the EU have become more energy efficient, new investment in all segments of electric infrastructure still is needed.
Financial players and load-serving utilities are looking for power asset deals.
Despite talk of wide bid-ask spreads in the past two tumultuous years, some 60 sales of generation assets have been announced. These sales cover more than 22 GW of capacity, valued on a cash-and-debt basis at approximately $11 billion. A wide variety of buyers and sellers have participated in the sales activity, with a pronounced entry by financial players (investment banks and private equity firms) and load-serving entities (LSEs) looking for capacity to serve their load.
As Baby Boomers near retirement age, utilities face the challenge of preparing the next generation of leaders.
Human resources managers at many utilities are sounding alarm bells about an impending shortage of skilled personnel-even amid flat industry growth and high unemployment rates.
Is FERC the rightful heir?
The possibility that energy legislation drafted last year won't pass in 2004 has created a power vacuum. Who now is czar of electric utility reliability? Language in the proposed bill would have answered that question. But when Congress demurred, did that imply an endorsement of the ?
Duke Energy made several changes to its executive leadership. Dick Blackburn said he would retire as the company's executive vice president, general counsel, and chief administrative officer. He had been with the company since 1997. Duke also named Bill Easter chairman, president, and CEO of Duke Energy Field Services, replacing Jim Mogg, who moves up to group vice president and chief development officer for Duke Energy.
Where will the next development opportunities occur?
With the current surplus of generating capacity across most power markets in the United States, what are the more attractive regions for power generation development around the world? Potential near-term opportunities exist in Latin America and the countries of the former Soviet Union based on critical infrastructure needs, but Asia, driven by China's explosive growth, is expected to be the largest source of turbine orders over the next decade.
Two Cato analysts suggest a return to the past-vertical integration, but now with no state regulators.
The defeat of the energy bill in the Senate last year has thrown electricity restructuring back on its heels. There clearly is no consensus among politicians or academics regarding how this industry ought to be organized or how it might best be regulated. Finding our way out of this morass requires a reconsideration of how we got to this dismal point in our regulatory journey.