Ann T. Donnelly, PH.D.

    From the well-head to gas marketing, transportation, and contracting, for Ann T Donnelly, Ph.D., consulting to the new retail electricity and gas business is a natural outgrowth of her prolific and varied career. As Principal Consultant for the Vancouver, Washington/Portland, Oregon, office of Power Resource Managers, LLC., (PRM) and a key member of a leading U.S. fuels and power development team, Dr. Donnelly specializes in performing power and gas market assessments and designing strategies for organizations restructuring for the competitive power industry.

    "One thing that has really helped me in the consulting business," Dr. Donnelly points out, "is having spent my entire career in the private or deregulated sector - the competitive sector. The experience of knowing how to move decisively in a competitive environment is a real advantage - you have to cut your staff, be more aggressive, be more targeted in your strategy, etc." And, to best communicate that sense of urgency without creating fear or anxiety, Dr. Donnelly advocates a team approach, using education to draw clients along the learning curve and help them reach on their own the conclusions that they need to reach. "I've found that if you try to force ideas into an organization you just wind up creating resistance."And, while it is not always clear which direction the business is going, utilities need to be prepared to deal with change. "Some of the utilities try to deny that there is customer choice," explains Dr. Donnelly, "while others embrace it. Those are the ones that are going to have the best shot at financial viability."

    The greatest potential for savings lies in the hands of the public utilities. With so many services lumped together into their delivery rates, very little of their retail costs are open to competition. Over time, as utilities are forced to unbundle the various components of their delivery costs, for example, ancillary services and metering, open them to competition, prices will drop, and utilities will be forced to become more efficient in order to survive. Utilities will also continue to divest themselves of their generation plants, introducing the potential for even greater efficiencies. "But, she warns, "this will take time."

    It was that same sense of urgency that led Dr. Donnelly to make another pioneering transition- from exploration into what is now known as gas marketing. Never one to be put off by what no one else wanted to do, Dr. Donnelly recognized a need to understand the new gas contracting and marketing opportunities. "I've frequently found that that's how you gain valuable experience-like cooking for the Alaskan expedition." So, when nobody else knew what to do with the boxes of contracts that arrived as part of her firm's newly acquired gas properties, Dr. Donnelly founded NERCO Oil & Gas's gas marketing and contracting department, and eventually took responsibility for marketing up to 100,000 Mcf/d of natural gas.

    In the electricity business, Dr. Donnelly has once again demonstrated that she's willing to do what it takes to make it work-even now, when savings are scarce. "If you're willing to jump in now and try to figure it out," she explains, "there are going to be rewards later. And clients will place a greater trust in you because you were there from the start."

    "There is not any one particular outcome that can be applied to all organizations, which is where my 30 years of experience helps me to help them make appropriate assessments. And, as independent consultants," she adds, "we're ale to provide an impartial perspective. As objective advisers our agenda is ultimately to provide the best possible customer service-serving both our customers as well as helping them serve theirs."