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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Repealing the New Deal, one step at a time

The new energy bill repealed the Public Utilities Holding Company Act of 1935. Apparently, regulated utilities will now be able to merge like banks, and/or be bought up by unrelated corporations, and/or get involved in risky investments that they've couldn't invest in before. WorldChanging suggests some probable consequences:
In short, the repeal of PUHCA means that public utility companies are now fair game for buyouts and consolidation. One likely scenario is that we see a process of merger and acquisition in the energy utility market akin to that in the telecommunications arena. Moreover, as major global energy companies such as ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco have been at the forefront of efforts to get PUHCA repealed, it's highly likely that they -- along with other energy majors -- will look to spend some of their recent windfall profits on utility acquisition, buying not just the power supply businesses, but the customer information. But it need not be an oil firm buying up utilities; billionaire investors and non-energy industry companies could just as easily buy up local utilities.

What might Wal*Mart Power & Light look like? or Microsoft Edison? Or General Electric Gas & Electric (GEG&E)?