Imagine a big Thanksgiving table. At the adult table are California\u2019s investor-owned utilities. Unregulated power plant owners, renewable energy providers, and demand-response aggregators sit unhappily at the kids\u2019 table. Utilities are pouring the beverages, carving the fowl, and making nearly all of the toasts. Those at the kiddie table have plates of soggy stuffing and cold mashed potatoes they push around. \u201cWe\u2019re glad to be a regulated utility,\u201d said Peter Darbee, Pacific Gas & Electric chief executive officer. In their ritualistic release of earnings reports this Thanksgiving season his cohorts at Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric made similar pronouncements with topped glasses in hand. Independent power producers and renewable developers stare at Kool Aid. That\u2019s how this quarter\u2019s income reports shook out. Utility executives attributed their financial strength to their regulated rates of returns--the envy of independent project developers. Regulated utilities get to pass through rising fuel costs automatically to customers. They were quick to hold their glass up high while noting their rate of return does not suffer when energy sales sag due to economic conditions, since under state policy the rate has been decoupled from sales levels. Utilities\u2019 rates of returns are based largely on expanding and upgrading physical plants, a process which continues despite the economic downturn. Using capital investments in smart meters, new renewable energy facilities, transmission lines, and distribution system upgrades, the state\u2019s utilities enjoy ongoing profitability. Quarterly reports by independent energy producers and renewable project developers to the financial community revealed they were largely hoarse and hungry. While NRG, Dynegy, AES and William got small dollops of ice cream on their plates, they and their generator tablemates are having a tough time dishing out the dessert. On top of that, NRG got a pie in the face from Excelon, which is attempting a hostile takeover. However, the renewable side of the table tried to put on happy faces--pointing to a future moveable feast from climate change pressures. \u201cWhile undoubtedly climate legislation will be taking a back seat to actions required to shore up our economy, the issues of global warming and energy security are not going away,\u201d said Lew Hay, FPL company chief executive officer. Solar companies, like SunPower Corp, saw higher incomes in this year\u2019s third quarter. Yet their stock moved in the opposite direction. The large wind developer, FPL, which sits closest to the adult table, scaled back its wind projects for next year because their servings have been significantly reduced. Demand-response companies predicted a banquet in the next couple of years but their pants are now sagging on their shrunken waists. EnerNoc and Comverge, which have energy curtailment deals with California investor-owned utilities, continue to experience net losses. Fairing even worse are companies that produce corn-based ethanol because of the soaring cost of corn. Pacific Ethanol saw its plate full of pie whipped away. VeraSun filed for bankruptcy protection--it too makes corn-based ethanol. Instead of playing football in the mud, in this era of economic uncertainty, it is time to give thanks and remember there is enough to go around. Consumers must have power for the TVs, lights, and stoves. They might skip their meds, new clothes, and gasoline, but they still need electricity and gas.