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Fortnightly Magazine - April 2005

Giving Credit Where It’s Due

Utilities will gain from new regs for research tax credits.

Craig King, Jeff Jones, and Kurt Mars

The 1990s ushered in the era of deregulation, bringing a reluctance of state commissions to approve large capital expenditures for transmission and distribution (T&D). To make up for this, capital spending has increased dramatically in the last few years. Now the federal government is stepping in to help utilities prime the pump. The final regulations, issued in early 2004 by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, should make it a little easier for utilities, as well as other taxpayers, to use research and development (R&D) expenditures to help lower their effective tax rates.

The Widening Technological Divide

Increased business and regulatory challenges have utilities lagging in investments to meet energy demand a decade from now.

Kurt E. Yeager

The electricity enterprise has tended through restructuring to become a victim of its historic success in maintaining universal service reliability at ever-lower cost. The essential foundation for restoring enterprise vitality in the coming decade is rebuilding this fundamental public/private partnership, based on technology innovations that can increase the value of electricity service, including providing higher levels of reliability and security.

Default Retail Supply: Making the Call on Market Price and Model Risk

How to set reserve levels for full requirements auctions.

Andy Dunn

Series Part 4: Retail supply auctions, known as Basic Generation Service auctions, are being proposed around the country. In a second article on BGS auctions, Andy Dunn presents a different view of load servicing valuations.

Gas Executives Forum: The New Downstream Dynamic

Gas distributors tell how their business strategies are changing in response to issues such as higher gas prices, electric M&A, LNG, and gas pipeline development. 

Michael T. Burr

Does the push for liquefied natural gas raise more questions than it answers? Will natural-gas prices level off? Gas executives from Duke Energy, New Jersey Natural Gas, National Grid USA, Sempra Energy, and Southern Co. tackle the most pressing issues.

Energy-Tech Venture Capital: The Next Disruptive Technology

New ideas that may transform the utilities industry.

Rodrigo Prudencio

With energy innovation growing as a percentage of overall venture capital activity, investors are placing bets on which technologies will emerge as the big winners.

Utilities and BPL: Betting Against the Odds

Why broadband over power line (BPL) can't stand alone as a high-speed Internet offering.

William P. Zarakas and Kenneth J. Martinian

Broadband over power line (BPL) wants to compete with cable modems and DSL for high-speed Internet customers, but BPL providers can make the technology more attractive by bundling the service with other product offerings.

Guns, Butter, or Green?

Utilities will face stark tradeoffs in meeting the next round of emissions controls.

Richard Stavros

Some utility execs gasp at the shear breadth of environmental proposals being bandied about during the past few weeks. Even the environmentalists are calling "historical" the extent to which different kinds of emissions will be regulated.

People

The California Independent System Operator board of governors hired Yakout Mansour to be its president and CEO. And others...

Letters to the Editor

Henry R. Linden

Why not let the industry make its own decisions on how to meet economy-wide reductions in greenhouse-gas intensity as a percentage of GDP? It can be demonstrated easily that the land requirements for biomass to replace fossil fuels far exceed what is available in the world and the United States, including croplands, pastures, and meadows.

Closing the Green Gap

Will wind power close the gap between state renewable portfolio standards and the current shortfall in viable technologies?

Kent S. Knutson and Peter McMahan

Renewable portfolio standards or mandatory renewable quotas have been established in 20 states and formally considered in 6 more. There is currently an energy shortfall of 118,400 GWh between operating non-hydro renewable electric output today and that required in 2020. Many state and local regulatory agencies have begun to work together to overcome many of the historic barriers to renewables development, such as transmission constraints, permitting, tax policy, and trading. It's clear that they will have to if renewable energy technologies are ever to meet state renewable portfolio standards.

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