Customer Satisfaction. American businesses that switched their energy suppliers for lower electricity prices are measurably less satisfied than companies that stuck with their current provider, says a national survey released by RKS Research & Consulting. In fact, companies staying with their current provider give their supplier higher marks on all major dimensions of performances, from cost savings and customer service to billing and usage information. Meanwhile, businesses that changed suppliers, while acknowledging lower costs, nevertheless expressed disappointment in the level of savings, according to the survey.
"Switching suppliers doesn't always deliver improvements," said Carmine Grastataro, RKS senior vice president in charge of the survey. "For instance, only a third-33 percent-of key accounts are satisfied with their new supplier, compared with the 58 percent satisfaction level among companies that stayed with the incumbent provider." Contact Carmine Grastataro, 727-726-4595.
Wind Energy Potential. Fair access to the utility transmission system is vital if wind energy is to reach its full potential in the United States, according to a white paper released by the American Wind Energy Association and prepared by Chris Ellison, an attorney and transmission consultant with Ellison, Schneider and Harris in Sacramento, Calif.
"The 'rules of the road' for our electricity transmission system today were designed to fit the operating characteristics of conventional power plants such as coal and nuclear plants," said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher. AWEA claims that its recommendations are consistent with the needs and interests of virtually all electricity generators.
The white paper zeroes in on five policy recommendations to transmission policymakers at the FERC and the regional transmission organizations that are being formed around the country. The white paper, "Fair Transmission Access for Wind, A Brief Discussion of Priority Issues," is available at www.awea.org/policy/documents/ transmission.PDF.
Fuel Cell Trends. Direct methanol fuel cells will be the most widely used, early technology of micro fuel cells, according to a report released from Allied Business Intelligence, "Portable Fuel Cell Markets-Global Portable Fuel Cell Opportunities in Portable Applications with an Intense Focus on Wireless Applications."
The report says that the rapid global expansion in the use of cellular phones, portable personal computers, PDG devices, and the emergence of new mobile equipment to use in conjunction with such devices, will continue to fuel market growth for high-end power supplies, particularly micro fuel cells. Portable fuel cells will enter the market with 50,000 units shipped in 2002, the report says, followed by a surge to 200 million units annually only five years later in 2007. See www.alliedworld.com.
NOx Costs. If the Environmental Protection Agency requires State Implementation Plans by the end of the year, it could cost consumers between $7 billion and $12 billion to ensure that coal-fired power plants substantially reduce their nitrogen oxide emissions by 2003, since plants will rush to install expensive technology rather than take the time to explore and test less-expensive remedies that might be implemented in phases, according to a study by Fuld & Co.
"The challenge faced by the industry is that, while many people seek environmental protection, few (including legislators) want to pay more for