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Fortnightly Magazine - January 2005

Reversing the Gas Crisis: The Methane Hydrate Solution

 Commercialization of methane recovery from coastal deposits of methane hydrates could head off an impending gas shortage.

Henry R. Linden

REVERSING THE GAS CRISIS

Commercialization of methane recovery from coastal deposits of methane hydrates could head off an impending gas shortage.

Looking superficially at today's gas market data, one might conclude that all is well with the gas industry.

Coal Gasification Gets Real

The technology works, but public policy will dictate its future.
Michael T. Burr

The technology works, but public policy will dictate its future.

A distant train whistle breaks the silence of a mid-winter evening on Minnesota's Iron Range. The melancholy sound echoes across the expanse of a frozen lake that now fills a long-disused LTV Steel pit near the town of Hoyt Lakes.

The Business for Co-Op Acquisitions

IOUs considering co-op acquisitions are finding fertile territory for growth.
Kevin T. Williams

IOUs considering co-op acquisitions are finding fertile territory for growth.

When utility executives consider the options for growing their business within a "back-to-basics" framework, naturally they consider acquiring other utilities. However, the relatively high price/earnings ratios of most investor-owned utilities (IOUs) today means bargains can be hard to find.

Frontlines

The failure of the Empire Connection spells trouble for private transmission projects.
Richard Stavros

Frontlines

The failure of the Empire Connection spells trouble for private transmission projects.

It's at the very heart of all policy initiatives for both electric generation and transmission: How do you attract the right amount of investment without creating an overbuilt market, or a boom-bust scenario? In recent months, utility executives, financiers, and policy-makers have been asking this question with even greater zeal than usual.

People

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

People

Power Measurements

Private equity rolls the dice.
Gary L. Hunt and Grant Thain

Power Measurement

Private equity rolls the dice.

Overbuild in power generation markets causes a slow revenue recovery not only for combined-cycle, but for all types of plant within any region. Standard project discount rates do not apply to merchant plants and current market conditions find many merchant projects struggling.

Perspective

Successful energy market development means understanding new subtleties and nuances.
William F. Hederman

Perspective

Successful energy market development means understanding new subtleties and nuances.

A recent McKinsey article proclaimed, "More progress has been made improving the governance of U.S. corporations during the past couple of years than in the several decades preceding them" ().

Commission Watch

LICAP and Its Lessons:
Bruce W. Radford

Commission Watch

LICAP and Its Lessons:

Doubts intensify over New England's radical new market for electric capacity.

What began nearly two years ago as a simple request by power producers to boost their chances for recovering fixed costs for several power plants in Connecticut has mushroomed into the single most complicated case now pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC).

Business & Money

Merchant Power:
Jeff Bodington

Business & Money

Merchant Power:

A review of power plant deals in 2004 shows that utilities are buying.

Sales of merchant generating facilities during 2004 signaled several trends that illustrate how the power business is evolving. After a nadir in 2002, sales turned up during 2003 and then more than quadrupled during 2004. The backlog of merchant plants for sale is thinning. Buyers and sellers are closing the spreads that led to much talk but few actual sales.

Technology Corridor

Are consumer broadband over powerline (BPL) services enough to make the business case for utilities?
Karen George

Technology Corridor

Are consumer broadband over powerline (BPL) services enough to make the business case for utilities?

After years of development, technology to deliver high-speed data over the existing electric power delivery network has emerged in the marketplace. In some sections of Cincinnati and Manassas, Va., consumers now have an alternative to DSL and cable for broadband Internet access. It's real and it works.

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