Lessons learned from Cinergy's losses in commodity markets.
After a second summer of extreme weather, contract defaults and consequent financial losses to energy companies, the financial community and shareholders are holding utilities ever more accountable when it comes to managing risk, say analysts. Moreover, they're showing zero tolerance for failure.
Projects sprout in the United States and overseas, pushing the limits of grid capacity, turbine manufacturers and available sites.
Merchant power plants are emerging en masse to address the growing electricity needs of the United States and other countries, thanks to deregulation and fearless developers. While some plants are built to replace older, less-efficient utility-owned units, others would serve demand growth. Still more are planned as niche-oriented peakers - ready to supply the grid when marginal prices rise high enough. Ancillary services might offer another niche.
IS IT A FAD OR BUSINESS? According to a recent SmartMoney %n1%n article, about 3 million customers traded $120 million in securities on the Internet last year, generating $700 million in commissions for online trading firms.
While this sum marks just 5 percent of total commissions for securities trading, it accounts for a healthy 30 percent of commissions for discount brokerage. Online trading firms, nonexistent several years ago, now total more than 50.
PURRED BY FLAT POWER DEMAND AT HOME IN RESIDENTIAL and industrial markets, U.S. utilities are taking huge risks in Latin America. Why? They are enticed by the promise of high-yield returns on generation, distribution and transmission deals.
Yet only some of the companies getting in on the ground floor of privatization or winning concessions in the Latin American energy market stand to make huge profits. Others, too slow to beat competitors, or not savvy enough to skirt political and regulatory land mines, could lose their shirts.
WELCOME BACK, MY FRIENDS, TO THE SHOW that never ends."
So said two weary commission staffers, trudging out of the hearing room late Friday afternoon, Jan. 31, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission adjourned its technical conference on the financial outlook for natural gas pipelines.
The hearing ran way behind schedule (em further evidence that before she left last summer for the Department of Energy, former FERC Chairwoman Elizabeth Moler neglected to pass along to successor James Hoecker whatever gene she possessed that allowed her to keep meetings moving right along.
When the phone rang it was Tom Mathews, director of mechanical and energy services at Hannaford Bros., the grocery chain that has become better known for shaving utility bills than trimming pork chops.
Mathews made news two years ago when Hannaford had threatened to install generating plants on site at some or all of its 140 or so retail stores, clustered in New England and the north and southeast states. Now he was calling to tell me about his new plan.
It was the week before Thanksgiving. On the train ride home (I live in downtown Washington, DC, in an old, sprawling apartment building that once claimed Huey Long and Richard Nixon as tenants), my attention was drawn to a frazzled female lawyer sitting in the seat next to me, who was feverishly making notes in the margins of a thick, serious-looking, legal-sized document.
I confess. I like to read over people's shoulders, but often lose interest after the first few words. This case was different, though.
Consumer advocates, utility chiefs, regulators, and analysts offered conflicting visions of retail competition's future at NASUCA's 1996 Capitol Hill Conference.
The National Association of State Consumer Advocates ( NASUCA) conference, "Restructuring the Electric Industry: What Are the Costs and Benefits to Consumers?," was held on February 29 and March 1 in the Rayburn House Office Building. The event was co-sponsored by Rep.