Customer satisfaction and electric utilities.
The conventional wisdom about utility spending is correct, but key factors affecting customer satisfaction aren't obvious—and are tricky to control.
Incentives, staffing, and benchmarking in a tight economy.
In several recent utility rate cases, regulators have disallowed portions of utility compensation expenses, on the basis that difficult local economic conditions justify pay cuts. However, when utilities begin squeezing their uniquely qualified technical and management staffs, performance can suffer. Analysis Group authors David W. Sosa and Virginia Perry-Failor review experiences at several companies to show how an evidentiary approach will help utilities avoid disallowances of critical compensation for valued employees.
Service quality suffers under PBR framework.
Building upon last month’s installment, more is revealed on how, after 10 years of incentive regulation, reliability has declined in Ontario.
Fundamental changes require bold strategies.
While many utilities have embarked upon efforts to define a path toward the next generation utility, these efforts often are siloed initiatives driven by the generation, transmission and distribution (T&D) or customer segments of the organization. Addressing the upcoming challenge will require a coordinated and integrated set of decisions so as not to sub-optimize the end-to-end value chain. Eight critical themes across the generation, T&D and customer elements of the value chain will shape the future of our industry.
Utilities should plan for U.S.-wide CO2 emissions restrictions that will be more effective than state efforts.
Utilities need to begin planning for U.S.-wide emissions restrictions that will be more effective than state efforts. Such restrictions are no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.”
Several hurdles remain to further liberalization and full competition in the electricity sector.
Operations & Maintenance
The process of calculating meaningful benchmarks is fraught with pitfalls.
Regulatory reporting requirements for major U.S. utilities provide a wealth of data for benchmarking studies. Both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Form 1 for electric utilities and FERC Form 2 for gas utilities involve the reporting of more than 2,500 unique data points per utility per year, across diverse aspects of utility operations, maintenance, and finance.
What is the right and prudent level of spending on service?
Times have changed for electric utilities. The combination of deregulation, mergers, major storms, and widespread outages has shifted the industry's emphasis to reliability. That wasn't always true. Even 20 years ago, the growth of load was adding so much to ratebases and driving such large rate increases that regulators spent a lot of time reviewing plans for capacity additions-and challenging utilities for over-spending.