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Fortnightly Magazine - January 2004

Business & Money

The consequences of exuberance are all around us.
Edward N. Krapels

Business & Money

The consequences of exuberance are all around us.

Much of the 160 GW of new generation capacity added to the U.S. inventory since 1998 is now under water, economically speaking. At a per-megawatt cost of $300, this represents $50 billion of investment-much of which is concentrated in Texas (23 GW), Illinois (14 GW), and Georgia (11 GW). The key question for both merchant and other plant owners is how long it will take for plant values to recover.

Technology Corridor

What made BG&E's system more reliable than Pepco's?
Jennifer Alvey

Technology Corridor

What made BG&E's system more reliable than Pepco's?

Reliability and customer information systems (CIS) are rarely mentioned in the same breath. After all, utilities spend millions on their outage management systems to help ensure reliability. But in the wake of Hurricane Isabel last fall, the CIS at Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E) gets kudos for helping the utility keep on top of a widespread outage.

The Utility Sector: A Wall Street Takeover?

Financial players bring credit depth to energy markets, but will they play by the rules?
Michael T. Burr

Financial players bring credit depth to energy markets, but will they play by the rules?

The center of gravity for energy marketing and trading activity is moving from Houston to Wall Street. Some major financial institutions already have plunged into the market, while others are testing the waters, gearing up to participate in a bigger way. Already their impact is being felt, and it is most definitely welcome.

Trading Spaces? Will CFTC Move Into FERC's House?

Will the CFTC move Into FERC's house?
Robert C. McDiarmid

Will the CFTC move Into FERC's house?

Most of us in the energy industry have long thought that the "transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce" falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The same goes for electric sales at wholesale, if also conducted in interstate commerce. We know that because the law1 and the courts tell us so. And natural gas is much the same.2

What's new at the Firewall

Utilities search for ways to combat viruses and spam.
Jennifer Alvey

Utilities search for ways to combat viruses and spam.

If you had to pick a couple of technologies that modern utilities can't function without, e-mail would have to top the list. Yet it usually doesn't grab the attention of executives these days nearly so much as outage management or SCADA systems.

The coming year may change that, as problems from spam and viruses reach near-epidemic proportions.

E-mail, and viruses, and spam-oh my!

Generation Reserves: The Grid Security Question

A cost-benefit study shows the value of adding synchronized generating reserves to prevent blackouts on the scale of Aug.14.
Rajat K. Deb

A cost-benefit study shows the value of adding synchronized generating reserves to prevent blackouts on the scale of Aug.14.

If nothing else, the blackout of Aug. 14 showed just how physically vulnerable the electric transmission network has become to problems that begin at a very localized level. That vulnerability stems in part of the greater volume of long-distance transactions imposed on the grid by today's power industry.

Climate Change: The Heat Is On

From reporting to trading, utilities try to meet new expectations.
Douglas W. Smith and Kyle W. Danish

From reporting to trading, utilities try to meet new expectations.

On the issue of global climate change, most utilities have devoted their attention to tracking developments in Washington, D.C., following the rising and falling fortunes of legislation that could result in federal greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting or regulatory requirements. For the most part, utilities have taken comfort in the resolutely anti-regulatory stance of the Bush administration on greenhouse gas emissions.

Mercury Rising

How will the EPA's rulemaking affect U.S. energy markets?
Stephen Becker and Craig Hart

How will the EPA's rulemaking affect U.S. energy markets?

With President Bush's Clear Skies program stalled in Congress, it is increasingly unlikely that a multi-pollutant regulatory package will receive congressional approval in the near future. In addition to providing another source of frustration for the Bush administration, the delay also forces the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose regulations controlling mercury emissions.

Frontlines

The legal battle of the century is ready to begin.
Richard Stavros

Frontlines

The legal battle of the century is ready to begin.

Tantamount to a declaration of war with state regulators was the order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) late last year, over the objections of Kentucky and Virginia, that AEP must join the PJM grid to meet conditions of its 2000 merger with Central and Southwest Corp.

People

New Positions:
We welcome submissions to People, especially those accompanied by a high-resolution color photograph. E-mail to: photos@pur.com

People

New Positions:

William O. Ball moved to the role of senior vice president of transmission planning and operations for Southern Co. He had been Southern's vice president of transmission planning, policy, and support services since March of 2002.

The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) board of directors chose Nicholas A. Brown as the organization's president and CEO. Brown has been with SPP for 18 years, most recently as senior vice president and corporate secretary.

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