Date of Award

Spring 2007

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Business, Accounting & Economics

First Advisor

Belle Marie

Second Advisor

Charles Ericksen

Third Advisor

Clint Kalich

Abstract

Simply thorough reading the headlines of any major newspaper, it becomes clear that energy is constantly on the minds of the American people. The story may have to do with a regulation barrier that the utility industry is battling, or predictions in the rise or fall of current rates. Given the large amount of money each American spends monthly on a utility bill (about 7 percent of his/her income for the average American and rising each year), and looming threats of energy shortages in each direction we turn, people are finally starting to take a greater interest in their utility companies (BLS.gov: Reflections).

Through the years, utilities have to come to provide services that are not merely desired, but rather expected. The reliance on these amenities can be witnessed in their absence. The death tolls rise whenever an unexpected blackout occurs with elderly people dying in the absence of heat or air conditioning, or traffic fatalities rising because of a traffic signal that’s unable to function without electricity. Businesses find themselves losing revenues without the abilities of computers or cordless phones to function. Households feel the pain in the form of losing a hot shower, one’s reading light, or the contents of a refrigerator going to waste. The phone lines are soon flooded with thousands of angry customers stating how “ridiculous” and “unacceptable” it is to have temporarily lost power. Although the benefits provided by a modem utility company are still relatively recent, in the consumer’s mind, they have become absolutely essential.

This thesis intends to discuss some of the most important aspects that are current in the utilities industry. Through some discussion on the important issues that many people may hear about in the news today, and a large emphasis on the planning process being used to ensure energy’s existence for tomorrow, this thesis intends to answer some of the gray areas in many American citizens’ minds regarding the industry. The following sections will lead to a better understanding and appreciation of electricity, a great privilege, which has now seemingly become a right.

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