Did Power Plant Buyers Pay Too Much?

A line-by-line case study of two high-priced portfolios, comparing fixed, variable and capital costs against forecasts of regional market prices.

A multi-billion-dollar wave of utility divestiture and power plant auctions has taken place during the last 18 months. Table 1 details some of these transactions, including the purchase price on a dollar-per-kilowatt basis and as a multiple of net book value. These measures frequently are cited as indications that buyers paid too much.

Real-Time Pricing: Ready for the Meter? An Empirical Study of Customer Response

Evidence suggests a decision point at 6 cents per kWh, indicating that self-generation becomes a highly viable option at that price

WHAT ROLE SHOULD REAL-TIME PRICING play in a deregulated electricity market? Can it serve as an incentive to induce customers to remain loyal to their power supplier? How do customers respond to price changes carried out under RTP tariffs?

Real-time pricing programs are now being used as a proxy for market-based pricing.

The New England Auction: Regional Strategy for Competitive Generation

USGEN IS THE NATURAL CANDIDATE TO PURCHASE NEES' generation assets. We have a well-established commitment to the region; we have strong power plant operating experience; and we have been a leader in promoting competition and customer choice in gas and electric industries."

(em USGen President and CEO Joseph P. Kearney

In August 1997, U.S. Generating Co., an affiliate of PG&E Corp., successfully bid $1.59 billion in a competitive auction for all of New England Electric System's non-nuclear generating business (18 power plants, plus power purchase contracts and other assets).

Gas Storage: What Moves the Market & What Doesn't

IS TEMPERATURE THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN how gas storage is used? Or are other variables involved? Can we answer these questions - and verify the results?

Since FERC Order 636, natural gas storage has grown into a high-profile asset in the industry. As a result, the industry has responded by changing the way it uses this storage. The exact nature of this adjustment is not apparent at a glance; one must first analyze industry data.

Competitive Efficiency: A Ranking of U.S. Electric Utilities

Do mergers and "critical mass" really make a difference? The answer, it seems, is yes.

To become more competitive, U.S. electric utilities have embarked on a quest in recent years to improve operational efficiency and factor productivity. The question is: Are utilities making progress? And, which companies have gained a competitive edge? Which have not?

Industry analysts have long argued that given the structure of the markets they serve and their cost-based, rate-setting procedures, electric utilities tend toward monopolistic behavior.

Do Lifeline Programs Promote Universal Telephone Service for the Pool?

Hardly at all. In fact, they do little more than reapportion income (em a task that lies outside the FCC's mandate.

The Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service recently proposed to expand subsidy programs for Lifeline telephone service. Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Joint Board seeks to add more low-income households to the telephone network.

Will such a strategy work? Our recent findings suggest not. They indicate that simple continuance of such programs, much less expansion, is a highly questionable proposition.

Financial News

Which matters most: Cost? Price? Sales? Regulation?

Many investors no longer think of electric utility stocks primarily as dividend-rich, income-oriented investments. Instead, they have begun to consider new criteria in evaluating utility stocks (em criteria that might help explain some of the variations in equity price performance now seen among various utility companies.

Financial News

Imagine That!

A Stock-price Premium for DSMA rise in DSM spending (as a percentage of total expenditures) indicated

an increase in market-to-book ratio.

For electric utilities, financial and managerial attributes such as rate of return or the dividend payout ratio often exert a strong positive effect on the market-to-book (M/B) ratio (em the ratio of the company's stock price divided by book value.

Marketing & Competing

The decision to buy, build, and/or sell information technology assets carries many pitfalls, especially for a regulated utility.