In their annual state-of-the-industry address before Wall Street, Edison Electric Institute President Thomas R. Kuhn and other members of the EEI leadership team said that the nation’s electric power industry—which is fueled by strong financial fundamentals, and a talented, dedicated workforce—is optimistic about the future as it addresses a number of significant issues.
“Shareholder-owned electric utilities are in a very solid financial position today, despite ongoing uncertainty in the economy,” said Kuhn. “All 51 EEI Index companies paid a dividend in 2012 for the entire calendar year, which was the first year on record that this has happened.”
“As an industry, keeping dividend tax rates low was one of our top public policy priorities last year. The fiscal cliff legislation passed on New Year’s Day, which permanently links the tax rates on dividends and capital gains, was an incredibly important victory for our customers, our shareholders, our industry, and our efforts to raise capital. Our industry is the most capital-intensive industry in the United States and projects to spend an average of about $85 billion a year on capital expenditures through 2014, which is the highest for any sector of the economy.”
Kuhn and the EEI panel outlined the many issues that the industry will be addressing in 2013. Key themes included:
- Tax Reform: With President Obama and the new Congress likely to focus on tax reform this year, EEI will concentrate its efforts on retaining the interest deductibility of corporate debt and addressing a number of important transition issues.
- Cyber Security: EEI will continue to put a heavy emphasis on protecting the grid from cyber threats by expanding on the many industry initiatives already underway to safeguard the electric system, and will continue to work to create a strong public-private partnership to secure and protect this critical infrastructure.
- The Environment: With a number of environmental-related rulemakings awaiting final action or implementation this year—as well as the potential for a proposed new rulemaking to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants—EEI will continue to work closely with the U.S. Environment Protection Agency to ensure that any new regulations protect customers from steep rate increases and give the industry as much flexibility as possible to maintain reliability and achieve the stated environmental goals.
- Natural Gas Prices: As today’s low natural gas prices continue to affect electricity generation choices, the industry will continue to pursue a balanced and diversified generating portfolio that combines all generation technologies and fuels to ensure affordable, reliable electricity supply.
- The Electric Generation Campaign: Through a new multi-faceted communications campaign, EEI is working to create broad awareness, acceptance, and adoption of transportation electrification. “The Electric Generation” campaign will bring together consumers who have already embraced electricity as a fuel, as well as those who want to leverage their enthusiasm and amplify the message that electricity makes driving better.
“While 2013 promises to bring new challenges, we’re optimistic about the future,” Kuhn said. “The electric power industry remains strong and by continuing to work together, I am confident that we will succeed and will transform our energy-consuming world in ways that we can’t even imagine now.”