After 20 years of consolidation, the industry looks distinctly different.
Electric utility mergers loom as the next step in restructuring.
Positioning to win in the contest for scale.
The industry’s slow-and-steady pace of mergers seems to be picking up speed, as larger and well-positioned players overtake smaller and weaker targets. Realizing the greatest value from consolidation requires companies to assess their strengths and weaknesses and focus on performance improvement—both before and after a deal gets done.
Technology and regulation changes the outlook for garbage burners.
Notwithstanding some past difficulties, trash-fired power plants represent an increasingly attractive opportunity for future clean generation investment. Waste fuel offers a green source of baseload power that’s competitive with fossil fuels. The technology is proven and mature, and it enjoys public policy support. Additionally, waste fuel will help utilities meet diversity goals and environmental mandates.
Do regulatory and economic trends favor industry mergers?
Now that some new major transactions have emerged, and financial recovery appears slowly moving forward, utility mergers are beginning to appear likely again. Although regulatory hurdles still impede new transactions, some changes at the federal level are reducing concerns about market power and competition. Plus, changing market conditions and new compliance requirements are strengthening the case for scale economics.
Ring-fencing after the subprime meltdown.
When Électricité de France stepped in to buy Constellation Energy’s nuclear assets and help the company avoid bankruptcy, the Maryland Public Service Commission conditioned the sale on a set of ring-fencing provisions. The industry has been using such structures to protect ratepayers in complex and high-risk M&A transactions since the 1990s. The protection isn’t foolproof, however—and it can bring problematic regulatory trade-offs.
Will shifting winds bring consolidation?
A spate of newly announced deals, including Allegheny Energy’s proposed $9.27 billion acquisition of FirstEnergy, plus PPL’s takeover of E.ON US for $6.73 billion, has left the utility industry cautiously optimistic for a revival of M&A activity.
Price transparency will drive GHG reductions.
In light of coming GHG legislation, price transparency is the key to achieving cleaner generation through the dispatch of lower-carbon sources.
Unconventional gas sources put a ceiling on future prices.
Unconventional gas and LNG are changing the outlook for future gas prices.