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Utilipro Reorganizes, Cuts Staff

Utilipro Reorganizes, Cuts Staff

Utilipro Inc., an 80% AGL Resources-owned billing and customer service provider, announced last week it is cutting staff and reorganizing because energy deregulation is taking hold too slowly.

In order to accommodate this slow pace, the management at Utilipro decided to reduce the workforce by 10%. It currently employs 280 people in its Atlanta, GA, headquarters. The reductions are ongoing, a company spokesperson said.

Also as part of the changes, Utilipro announced that James Hopkins, formerly director of information technology at Utilipro, is now president, having day-to-day operating responsibilities for the company. Neil Stewart, formerly director of information technology operations at Utilipro, is now the chief information officer. Brian Gillespie, who had been president and CEO of the company, is now its full-time CEO.

"The transition to a deregulated energy market is occurring at a slower pace than anyone anticipated," said Gillespie. "With the recent exit of key players, such as Sierra Pacific Energy Corp. [in Nevada] and PSEG Energy Technologies [in New Jersey], from the deregulated energy market it is clear that the complexion of the competitive landscape is changing."

Utilipro serves electric and gas suppliers in California, Georgia, New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. This marks the latest in a string of companies that have recently scaled back their efforts in deregulating markets. Earlier this year both DTE Energy and Cinergy entirely pulled out of the retail marketing arena, saying the markets are not developed enough to turn serious profits.

In Nevada, Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power have both filed lawsuits against the state commission to halt the application of the current electric deregulation legislation (see NGI, April 3). The utilities claim the system, as it stands now, would be unfair to its customers and shareholders if implemented.

It's this kind of setback that has caused Utilipro to pull back. "If you look at the Nevada situation," Gillespie said, "there was a case where the deregulation process was supposed to move swiftly, like in Georgia. Now, people are saying 'no way,' and want the whole thing changed. This type of setback has shown us that deregulation will move at a much slower pace than we originally thought."

John Norris

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