Nathan Rothschild knew before anyone else that Napoleon would lose the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. With this advance knowledge he dumped his British-backed government securities on the market, making it appear as if he had heard the opposite outcome. His competing merchant bankers, following Rothschild's move, also sold their securities. After Rothschild saw the market bottom out, he repurchased every piece of paper he could lay his hands on (em at fire sale prices.
New business opportunities, improved internal communications, and energy information services: three solid reasons electric utilities should form a telecommunications strategy (if they haven't already). Yet, while these motivations are compelling, none really demands utility participation.
In talking to electric utility managers from across the country we have found that most believe direct access will have major repercussions on all aspects of their business by the end of the decade. Not surprisingly, there is an emerging consensus that revenues will drop rapidly as supply options grow for retail customers.
The nonstop dialogue about retail wheeling, power brokers, PoolCos, and restructuring overlooks customers and their increasing thirst for value-added services. Aside from a few emphatic words by some industrial users, little has been said about customer expectations. This article offers a snapshot of the brave new world of energy service marketing (ESM). ESM will take the place of demand-side management (DSM) and electricity marketing, blending the best of both.
ESM is simple.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has approved a series of charges levied by local exchange carriers (LECs) under their agreement with the state government to operate the North Carolina Information Highway (NCIH). The NCIH is a broadband network that
uses fiber-optic cable and advanced switching and transmission equipment to provide data, video, and imaging communications to sites throughout the state. The technology is not yet generally deployed in the public telephone network.
Imagine you're the principal energy buyer for a national chain of managed health care centers, with a $200-million annual energy tab. Top management asks you to assess how the chain can cut its energy bills.
You turn to your local electric and gas utility, which talks a lot about customer service, but doesn't have much to show for it yet.
It was after seven o'clock in the evening (em nearly 12 hours since the DOE-NARUC Second National Electricity Forum had gotten underway up in Providence, RI (em when it all finally hit home. This time the regulators were serious. People were paying attention.
Everybody's talking about electric utilities dabbling in telecommunications. That's fine. But how about vice versa? Maybe what we've really got is telephone companies (and cable television, too) getting into energy. That's different.
After Congress enacted the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the electric utility industry focused considerable attention on what seemed the key provisions of the acid rain program: e.g., emission allowance trading. In contrast, the highly technical, seemingly innocuous continuous emission monitoring (CEM) provision received scant attention (em only a few engineers took notice. We now know that emission trading and other supposed key provisions had only a modest impact on utilities.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been rebuffed yet again by the courts in its effort to relax tariff filing requirements for nondominant common carriers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit thwarted the FCC's latest attempt, rejecting proposed rules that would permit the nondominant carriers to file a range of rates rather than fixed rates tied to a schedule of charges.
The courts had earlier overturned a series of FCC rulings.