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Communication Requirements in a World of Choices

Samuel C. Randazzo, The Electric Industry Opportunities and Impacts for Resource Producers, Power Generators, Marketers, and Consumers (1996)

To appreciate the role communication systems play in the effort to transform monopolies into customer attentive and value added suppliers, it is important to begin with an understanding of the existing structure of the electricity industry. The dominant structure in the electricity industry produces a firm that is highly integrated along vertical lines. In other words, the same owner frequently presides over production, transmission and distribution functions that must be performed to make electricity available in wholesale or retail markets. In some cases, this owner also controls major production inputs such as coal used to produce the steam that drives the turbine. These functional categories within the electricity manufacturing process have been “bundled” in the retail market so that supplier choice for each functional component is not possible in any significant dosage. The current system allows for little customization and requires little customer input (except to throw a switch or to pay a bill which is frequently too high).