Electric Utilities Industry Overview
Excerpt from Electric Utilities Report
Companies in this industry generate, transmit, and distribute electric power. Major companies include Duke Energy, Exelon, and Southern Company (all based in the US), as well as EON (Germany), EDF (France), Enel (Italy), and Tokyo Electric Power (Japan).
Although deregulation has altered power markets in many nations, electric utilities often continue to operate as unofficial monopolies in a given service territory. Demand is driven by commercial, industrial, and residential electrical power requirements, which are tied to economic activity and population growth. Profitability is determined by government regulations and fuel costs. Large companies have an advantage in negotiating fuel contracts. Small companies can compete effectively by exploiting market niches, such as offering green power in regulated markets. The US industry is highly concentrated: the 50 largest firms generate about 75% of industry revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major services include electric power transmission, control, and distribution (about 70% of US industry revenue); and electric power generation (30%). The electric power generation segment can be further broken down by power source. Most commercial power comes from turbine engines powered by steam produced by burning fossil fuels, mainly coal and natural gas. Other power sources include steam from nuclear reactors; conventional hydroelectric conversion; and renewable sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal. Natural gas surpassed coal as the top fuel source for US power producers in 2016, representing 34% of the fuel mix compared to 30% for coal. Other sources and shares for 2016 included nuclear, 20%; hydroelectric, 7%; wind, 6%; biomass, 2%; and solar, about 1%.