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.
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.
Utilities will face stark tradeoffs in meeting the next round of emissions controls.
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.
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.
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.
Why a new market-power screen—accounting for the relationship between customers and suppliers in the wholesale marketplace—is a necessity.
Louis R. Jahn
The philosophy of "first, do no harm" has served the medical profession well for more than 2,000 years. Today, it may be equally good advice for FERC as it seeks to create fair and accurate screens to determine who does and does not have market power. One of the two interim screens FERC is using to evaluate applications for market-based rate authority may create a large number of false positives—power suppliers judged to have market power when in reality they do not. To remedy this, FERC should add a new market-power screen based upon an analysis of the actual relationship between customers and suppliers in the wholesale marketplace.
It's certainly puzzling, if not downright peculiar. That's the feeling one gets after studying the notice of inquiry (NOI) that FERC launched late last year, after nearly 10 years of dragging its feet, to re-examine the wisdom of encouraging the practice of rate discounting by interstate natural gas pipelines.
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.
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