ATLANTA—A group of North American utilities and their partners have formed Enporion, an open global procurement exchange for the energy industry.

The initial founders group includes Allegheny Energy Inc., New Century Energies, Minnesota Power, Northern States Power, and PPL Corp. Cap Gemini Ernst & Young LLC is the business advisor for Enporion.

Once formed, this global partnership will focus on building relationships that benefit both buyers and sellers. With a focus on operational excellence, buyers and sellers will see reduced cycle times, lower inventories, reduced transaction costs and enhanced profitability. Suppliers will experience smoother interfaces, exposure to new markets, and, in the long run, more standardized design. Buyers will access new suppliers, and will experience supply chain process streamlining and lower overall operating costs.

“By tightly linking suppliers and buyers through the Internet and this B2B exchange, we can dramatically change the way that the energy industry does business,” said William Hecht, PPL Corp. chairman, president and CEO.

“Operational excellence in supply chain operations by the members of Enporion will allow us to manage most efficiently the number one or number two controllable expense within our organizations,” said Wayne Brunetti, New Century Energies chairman and CEO.

“Deregulation of the marketplace has created pressures to reduce costs, and we can work together with our customers to find opportunities for both of us to find ways to achieve this goal,” said Bob Dalton, vice president, utility sales and marketing, Pirelli Cable and Systems, North America.

The initiative will mark the first collaborative effort of SAP and Commerce One following the announcement of their alliance to combine their product offerings for building electronic marketplaces.

“This group of companies clearly understands the value of integrating their business processes with other buyers and suppliers, and they appreciate how the SAP and Commerce One Marketplace will help them lead in the next wave of collaborative business,” said Mayur Shah, SAPMarkets president.

Mark Hoffman, Commerce One CEO said: “The exchange represents a strategic opportunity for both Commerce One and SAP. It will allow us to show how our two companies best of class solutions will combine to create an online trading community unmatched by any other.”

Lehman Brothers is the investment advisor; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP is legal counsel to the group, and Ernst & Young LLP is the tax advisor.

Enporion also has retained Clarke Communications Group, a Boston-based integrated marketing communications firm, to assist in the branding strategy as well as advertising, public relations, direct marketing and Web-based marketing programs.

Enporion is derived from the English word “emporium,” meaning a marketplace that carries a diversity of merchandise. The root of the word emporium can be traced back to the ancient Greek word, “emporos,” meaning a trader or traveler. The prefix “en” refers to the company’s business marketplace-the energy industry.

Enporion is scheduled for commercial operation by the end of the year 2000.