Retail Energy Choice. At press time, Virginia issued proposed interim rules governing pilot programs for electric retail competition in electricity and natural gas, with comments due Feb. 24. The interim rules were not expected to resolve all issues, but only to provide a starting point to gain experience.
Among other points, the interim rules would require utilities to make information available through electronic bulletin boards on availability of commodity supply, ancillary services, and transmission and distribution capacity. Case No.
An alternative measure of performance - not based on dividends, earnings growth or P/E ratios.
How to place a value on a utility company? That is the question.
The traditional models no longer work very well. Dividend discount models will not work well if utilities cut dividends and buy back stock to return capital to the shareholders. Earnings growth offers no reliable performance gauge either, as utilities acquire or divest large amounts of capital. Restructuring charges often become necessary to shift resources to their best use.
As utility takeovers break new ground, the FERC ponders proposed rules, perhaps already out of date.
A year ago, when U.S. Antitrust Czar Joel Klein talked of a "window of opportunity" for electric utility mergers, he didn't predict when it would close.
And it hasn't yet.
In the 12 months leading up to January 1998, when Klein had addressed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission through its "Distinguished Speakers" series, only the ill-timed Primergy deal had been turned down. The next year, 1998, would prove no different.
CUSTOMER SERVICE LINKED THE FIVE FINALISTS OF THE 1998 ULTRA competition, with all addressing, and improving, some aspect of serving end users.
The contest winner, Florida Power & Light Co., combined old hardware with new software and other innovations - such as using the Internet - to address a problem that plagues many utilities: how to cut the number of just-paid delinquent customers who call for power reconnects.
THE SUMMER OF 1996 OPENED COOLER THAN normal in June and July, cutting electric sales. When prices for natural gas did not fall as expected, as a counterbalance Consolidated Edison Co. of New York entered a combined gas-conversion and weather-heading transaction with power marketer Aquila Energy, giving Con Ed some measure of protection against further revenue shortfalls in August.
Power Pools & Reliability
SUMMER IN WISCONSIN. Responding to concerns about the electric shortages of the summer of 1997 and fears that they could happen again, Wisconsin PSC Commissioner Joseph P. Mettner has indicated that the state's energy supply outlook for the summer of 1998 appears much better in eastern Wisconsin than it did one year ago.
Mettner noted that Wisconsin's electric supply system is operating with expected reserve margins of 19.2 percent. But he cautioned that electric power flows do not respect borders.
UTC, The Telecommunications Association, appointed William R. Moroney its executive director. He replaces Mike Meehan, UTC's executive director since 1988. Moroney previously served as president and CEO of the Multimedia Telecommunications Association.
LG&E Energy Corp. named Frederick James Newton III senior vice president of human resources and administration. Previously, Newton was senior vice president of human resources for Woolworth Corp.'s Champs Sports Division.
Commissioner Heather F. Hunt has resigned from the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
CROSS THE COUNTRY, CRITICISM RISES FROM INVESTOR-owned utilities as public power agencies are drawn into regional or national markets through power pools and the geographic expansion of power marketing activities. Whether these agencies are seen as federally funded or just indirectly subsidized, the complaints remain the same: tax advantages, no reciprocity, exemptions from regulation.
Who really has power over the power? Do public power agencies enjoy an advantage, as private industry claims?