New ideas that may transform the utilities industry.
Should an LDC procure electricity hedge products by using an Internet-based auction?
We propose that local distribution companies (LDCs) should use an Internet-based auction to procure inactively traded products, because the auction is a superior alternative to common procurement methods, such as bilateral negotiation and request for offers (RFO). Supporting our proposal is the empirical evidence from two auctions recently held by a municipal utility in Florida.
Gas Executives' Forum
Why utilities haven't scored at e-commerce.
From what I hear, utilities would love to junk their call centers, whether or not they run them in-house. Call centers had their moment in the sun, but today the Internet makes them look feeble. Why hire a minimum-wage sales staff to take orders by phone when consumers will gladly input their own bids at the click of a mouse? You can't trim transaction costs any closer than that.
Want auctions for gas capacity? Don't think pipeline. Think online.
In July 1998, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission signaled its intent to try one more time to make greater use of electronic auctions in the pricing and allocation of regulated gas pipeline transmission capacity. The proposed rule, issued in Docket No. RM98-10, marks the third major effort by the commission in this area. Several workshops have already been held. Formal comments are due Jan. 22.
CONSUMER FRAUD. The National Association of Attorneys
General, meeting Nov. 18 in Washington, D.C., to discuss electric restructuring, issued a warning to electric consumers on fraudulent schemes and abusive practices by scam artists. The warning encourages consumers to check their electric bills for unusual provider names or charges, and to avoid participating in contests that require a signature that can be used to switch an account.
RATE REDUCTION BONDS.
s The technology is digital.
s The medium is cyberspace. The product is a strategic system for billing, collection and customer services (BCCS) that integrates knowledge and choice through an automated customer interface.
The impending obliteration of the business boundaries between the gas, electric and other energy industries will launch a series of convergent waves of change. Executives, regulators, legislators, investors and, naturally, consumers must ride this wave over the next 10 to 15 years.