In 2007, Energy East agreed to be bought out by Spanish utility company Iberdrola SA (IBE) for $4.5 billion.

Iberdrola USA, Inc. (formerly Energy East) is a major regional player and the leading U.S. operating subsidiary of Iberdrola SA (IBE). The utility holding company distributes electricity and natural gas in four northeastern states through Berkshire Gas, Central Maine Power, Connecticut Natural Gas, Maine Natural Gas, New York State Electric & Gas, Rochester Gas and Electric, and Southern Connecticut Gas. Iberdrola USA serves about 2 million electricity customers as well as 1 million natural gas customers.[1] Other operations include power generation, energy marketing, gas transportation and processing, propane distribution, telecommunications, and energy infrastructure and management services.

Iberdrola USA has a regional and therefore highly stable customer base, and its principal businesses are regulated by state governments. This price regulation also contributes to the stability of its income and financial state.

During the past few years, Iberdrola USA has focused on acquiring smaller utilities companies in the Northeast. Its main subsidiaries now include New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG), Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E), Central Maine Power Company (CMP), and Berkshire Gas; other subsidiaries include smaller electricity generating companies and telecommunications assets. Customers of these subsidiaries range from high-technology firms, consumer goods manufacturing, colleges and universities, and recreational facilities. The percentages of revenue generated from electricity and natural gas sales has remained relatively constant.

Since Iberdrola USA's customer population is growing much more slowly than the populations of other parts of the country, it has experienced correspondingly low growth rates. Its main growth strategy is to continue its policy of acquisitions.

Company Overview

As a holding company, Iberdrola USA owns subsidiaries that transport and distribute energy to various customers. Iberdrola USA obtains natural gas from BP (BP) and renewed a long-term contract in 2007. Natural gas delivery rates are also regulated by state and local governments.

Energy East was acquired by Iberdrola, a Spanish utility holding company based in Bilbao that owns gas and electricity businesses in over 25 countries. It is the largest owner of wind energy power plants in the world, including the assets of Scottish Power Plc., acquired in April 2007 [2].

Trends and Forces

Government regulation

Federal, state, and local laws determine many aspects of Iberdrola USA’s business, including the rates it charges, the facilities it builds, and the amount of damages caused by natural disasters it can recover. A significant amount of time may pass before a new project is approved by the government, and regulatory approval is to a certain degree beyond the control of the company.

Environmental policies

Recent years have seen legislation imposing higher environmental protection standards, which can be expensive to implement. However, Iberdrola USA has invested in new transmissions systems to take advantage of a revitalized interest in clean energy and expects to spend over $3 billion on capital investments through 2011 [3]. These investments include hydroelectric generation facilities and wind farm programs, the latter of which experienced a 150% increase in customer participation [4]

Supply of natural gas and electricity

Iberdrola USA obtains its natural gas from BP (BP) and is dependent on other companies to generate the electricity that it distributes to its customers. However, the supply of natural gas can be affected by adverse weather conditions, pipeline breakdowns, war, or other such situations. Iberdrola USA is insured against these losses, but abrupt changes in the price of natural gas and electricity will squeeze revenues.

Demand based on weather conditions

The demand for energy is directly related to weather conditions. Cold winters cause an increase in the use of natural gas for heating, and hot summers cause an increase in the use of electricity for cooling. Iberdrola USA hedges risk by trading futures and other financial instruments, but since the demand for its services is affected by the weather, dramatic and unpredicted changes in climate can either increase or decrease its revenue. Iberdrola USA must be able to accurately predict the weather in order to maximize its profits.

Competition

Because Iberdrola USA is a regulated public utilities company, it is a monopoly and faces no competition within its operating regions. Other energy companies operating in the Northeast include Consolidated Edison (ED), serving southeastern New York and New Jersey; Northeast Utilities (NU), serving Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and New Hampshire; and FirstEnergy (FE), serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey.



References

  1. Google Finance: Iberdrola USA Company Profile
  2. "Iberdrola Unit Drops in Debut After $6 Billion IPO," Bloomberg
  3. 2006 EAS 10-k, Item 7, pg. 26
  4. Energy East | Renewable Energy
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