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Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 2003

Blackouts? never Again! (But...)

We ask merchant grid developers if anything can ever be done.
Lori A. Burkhart

We ask merchant grid developers if anything can ever be done.

 

The blackout of August 2003 should have come as no surprise. The Department of Energy's May 2002 National Transmission Grid Study finds growing evidence that the U.S. transmission system is in urgent need of modernization.

Customers Interrupted

Utilities that are short on capacity and operate in a stable regulatory environment may be able to extract value from interruptible rates.
Mike Whitmore

Utilities that are short on capacity and operate in a stable regulatory environment may be able to extract value from interruptible rates.

 

Frontlines

The blackout could doom deregulation, but why treat reliability and reform as either-or?
Bruce W. Radford

Frontlines

The blackout could doom deregulation, but why treat reliability and reform as either-or?

Driving west near Cleveland on the Ohio Turnpike back in August, a few days after the big blackout, I saw what looked like a small helicopter hovering up ahead, about 25 feet from the top of a transmission tower.

Was this a prank? Had terrorists struck? Or was it the local TV news station, just trying to get a closer look?

People

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People

New Positions:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) appointed Thomas A. Leach to a two-year term on its Consumers Advisory Council. Leach is the business manager and financial secretary of Local Union 126, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Perspective

FERC should consider a two-part tariff to boost transmission investment.
Jay Apt and Lester B. Lave

Perspective

FERC should consider a two-part tariff to boost transmission investment.

 

Transmission, rather than generation, is generally the constraint preventing customers from getting the power they desire.

Benchmarks

Four factors could lead to further shockwaves.
Steve Piper

Benchmarks

Four factors could lead to further shockwaves.

 

The Northeast transmission grid has suffered a right cross to the jaw, but it could be followed by an uppercut of price spikes and volatility in generation markets by next summer.

In the wake of August's Northeast blackout, most experts agree that the transmission system in the Northeast has deficiencies.

Commission Watch

Why FERC must yield to bankruptcy law.
Kenneth Irvin and Robert Loeffler

Commission Watch

Why FERC must yield to bankruptcy law.

 

How will regulators react if the current trickle of bankruptcies within the debt-laden merchant power sector should suddenly become a torrent? Will they encourage the necessary restrcturing of debt, or will they stand in the way?

Business & Money

The application of FASB Statement No. 13 can result in unforeseen changes to the financial statements and, in turn, financial ratios of a utility.
John McKay

Business & Money

The application of FASB Statement No. 13 can result in unforeseen changes to the financial statements and, in turn, financial ratios of a utility.

 

What Do You Mean by Green?

Seemingly eco-friendly definitions can prevent adoption of renewable portfolio standards.

Michael Strong

Seemingly eco-friendly definitions can prevent adoption of renewable portfolio standards.

The CIO Forum: Budgets Byte Back

Chief tech officers discuss how they are using their data to beat the competitition.
Jennifer Alvey

Chief tech officers discuss how they are using their data to beat the competitition.

 

This year's first IT commandment: Use what you've got. And the second is like unto it: Data is king. Those are the strong themes that emerged from this year's CIO Forum. Fortnightly interviewed three chief information officers at three diverse companies: a traditional utility, Cinergy; a merchant generator, Calpine; and an independent system operator (ISO), the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).