Fortnightly Magazine - September 2007

Razing the Regulatory Compact

Smart-grid technologies will dismantle the regulated utility business model, says economist Lynne Kiesling.

When consultants start talking about creating new service models, the eyes of utility executives and regulators tend to glaze over. But that is destined to change, according to Lynne Kiesling, a Ph.D. economist and senior lecturer at Northwestern University. The primary reason: smart metering.

The Best Little Nodal Market in Texas

Sweating the details for 2009.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) introduced wholesale market competition in 1996, following the organizational change of ERCOT from a pure reliability council to an independent system operator (ISO) the same year. This makes ERCOT one of the earliest adopters of competitive electric markets. Stakeholders and regulators in ERCOT are trying to work out the details of implementing this market.

The Greening of Utility Customers

A survey finds that consumers would support higher costs of “clean coal” and alternative fuels.

More than three quarters of the consumers surveyed believe that alternative energy brought benefits, and a slight majority, 54 percent, would pay an additional 5 percent on their electric bills. The survey also found that 62 percent would be willing to pay higher rates to support “clean-coal” technologies

The Devil in the Deal: Notes From an M&A Practitioner

A look at due diligence for energy transactions, and at what’s driving them.

By the end of last year, much was being made of the failed attempts at multibillion-dollar mergers by FPL with Constellation, Exelon with PSEG, and Southern Co. with Progress Energy. In spite of the repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act, these mega-mergers still required regulatory approvals from multiple state and federal agencies, and their high profiles attracted attention and resistance from a vast array of special interests.

Tilting to Windward

As if carbon control were a fait accompli, gen developers skew the queue toward renewable projects, driving new policy on transmission pricing.

Now at last, in a region other than California, we can see clearly that renewable mandates and fears of carbon taxes have influenced the power-plant development cycle. Moreover, this effect is helping to drive policy proposals for the pricing of transmission service and the recovery of costs for grid upgrades deemed necessary to bring the new plants on line.

The 40 Best Energy Companies

Will 2007 be remembered as the year of the turnaround? Several new CEOs with bold transformation programs took top spots in our third annual ranking.

(September 2007) Consistent performance over time is the Holy Grail of corporate management, and a focus of many of the executives who made this year’s ranking. Who returned to the list, and who fell off? And more important, why?

Understanding the F40

How does the modified Dupont Model reward utilities?

(September 2007) The impact of dividend policies, capital expenditures, and publicly traded equities highlights an in-depth look at what goes into the modified Dupont Model behind the Fortnightly 40 financial rankings for utilities.

How to Achieve High Performance

Lessons from the top 40 utilities.

(September 2007) A senior executive at Accenture broadens the financial metrics behind the Fortnightly 40 to expound on the high performance behind this year’s ratings—and show the way for utilities aspiring to make the list in future years.

Advanced Metering Infrastructure Special Report: A Planning Guide for AMI

How to manage the metering selection process.

The complex process of selecting an AMI system takes considerable time, goes through distinct phases, and is subject to outside influences that will interrupt progress. The authors list several success factors that must be addressed to avoid the risks of poor choices, ruined budgets, and failed implementation.

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