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Technology's Strategic Role

Fortnightly Magazine - August 1995

cost of supplying power may increase 20 times or more. Trying to recover this cost through adjustments in fixed standard price structures or through demand-side management is usually "inefficient" in economic terms. One study suggests that the marginal cost of reducing load through RTP can be as low as one-tenth the cost of reducing that same load through interruptible service, because customers have greater latitude in choosing their own responses.

The largest controlled RTP experiment in the United States is currently underway at Georgia Power Co., with EPRI collaboration. This experiment has already revealed the power of RTP as a competitive tool that can be used to attract new retail customers. During the first 15 months of the Georgia Power Experiment, the new rate structure brought approximately $500 million of new investment into the state. On average, customers participating in the experiment have seen their average electricity cost decrease about 10 to 15 percent per

kilowatt-hour.

Clearly the electric power industry is moving into a period of unprecedented competition. The utilities who prove successful in this new era will be those that can cut costs and increase customer satisfaction. Achieving these seemingly conflicting goals requires the strategic use of newtechnology. t

Karl Stahlkopf is vice president of EPRI's Power Delivery Group.

Technology Applications CenterBegun in 1987 with 4,000 square feet, Georgia Power's TAC (em probably this country's first utility-owned technology center -- now cover 19,200 square feet. A part of The Southern Co., it aids manufacturers in most of Georgia and Alabama, southern Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle. Major industries served include textiles, pulp and paper, and metals and plastics production and fabrication.

Says TAC manager Gary Birdwell, "We help customers solve productivity, quality, and environmental problems with electrotechnologies like induction and microwave heating, IR and UV drying and curing, powder coating, and plasma cutting and welding."

Soon TAC will boast a new Center for Manufacturing Information Technologies. Its mission: to show customers how to use software and to structure computer systems that increase competitiveness. "We'll tackle anything that improves operations," says Birdwell, "from CAD [Computer-Aided Design], engineering, analysis, inventory and machine scheduling, to robotics."

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