"Back-to-basics" strategies challenge enterprise-risk philosophies.
Nearly a year ago, cover story announced the rise of the chief risk officer (CRO). "Utility senior management is becoming positively enamored with the office of the CRO," we said. "Fully 40 percent of America's CROs work for utilities and energy companies."
What is risk management?
No, it's not a brainteaser. It's the driving question behind , a new book from authors Shirley S. Savage and Peter R. Savage that offers a risk primer for energy company employees and executives.
Gas Price Prudence: From Hedge-and-Hope to Best Practice
Utilities and regulators should follow the same ideas that govern risk management at the largest of commodity trading houses.
The July 5, 2001 issue of offered an update on what utilities and regulators are doing in the area of commodity price hedging for natural gas.
The headline read, "Dominion East Ohio Sales Customers Will Pay 29% Less in Gas Costs under PUCO-Led Encouragement of Hedging Plan...."
Wait for the "second wave," when new products help suppliers escape the trench warfare of pricing.
Utilities and marketers hash out the final details on a standardized contract for physical trades of electricity.
A standardized master contract for U.S. power trading could help wring order out of chaos in electric commodities markets by defining a common set of terms for physical transactions for both utilities and marketers, say experts.
But success likely will hinge on how well utilities and marketers can compromise on a narrow list of issues still to be settled, say those same experts.
Options and insurance each has a niche, but price collars are cheaper and more adaptable to market risk and customer behavior.
During the summers of 1998 and 1999, wholesale prices in the Midwest soared to $7,000 or more per megawatt, in comparison to a more typical summer price of $30 to $50 per megawatt. In a competitive environment, electricity suppliers - that is generators, utilities, marketers, etc. - will offer a variety of pricing products ranging from flat rates to real-time pricing (RTP). By varying degrees, price risk will be passed to the end-user.
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.
In Norway and in England and Wales, power retailers are learning hard lessons.
The U.S. electric industry has long tried to follow Thomas Edison's dictum "to sell light instead of current" (em to get beyond the meter. But what is beyond the meter at industrial and commercial sites?
In energy-intensive industries one sees processes such as smelters, pulp mills, rolling mills, refineries and chemical plants. In general manufacturing, although some electricity is used for specialized electrotechnologies, most is used for lighting, motive power, computing and robotics.