Will the environmental lobby be even-handed with utilities?
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
They were heralded as “landmark” or “watershed” moments in the industry—a series of deals completed during the last few months in which utilities sat down and negotiated with environmentalists on coal-plant development. While many in the industry had hoped this was the start of a positive new trend, some environmentalists have double-dealt across state lines, arguing against coal plants in one state and then negotiating for their development in the other.
(May 2007) The board of directors of Maine & Maritimes Corp. selected Brent M. Boyles to become the organization’s next president and CEO. Consumers Energy has named Bruce Rasher manager of renewable energy. FPL Group Inc. announced that Oliver D. Kingsley Jr. has been elected to the company’s board of directors. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. named Des Bell as utility chief of staff and vice president.
Consultant Ed Krapels makes waves with undersea transmission.
Bruce W. Radford
“Make no small plans,” the saying goes, and consultant Ed Krapels has taken that to heart. Krapels' vision: Bring significant quantities of renewable energy south from Maine and the Canadian Maritimes, and inject that capacity directly into the congested downtown local grids of America’s large East Coast cities. Who could find fault with that?
Intermittent and interruptible resources increasingly are being considered in regional resource adequacy calculations—but the approaches differ.
Lawrence Risman and Joan Ward
While both NERC and the NERC regional councils (known today as the Electric Reliability Organization) have standards and guidelines for resource adequacy and system reliability, much of the specificity as to how interruptible (e.g., demand-side) and intermittent resources (e.g., wind) are included is left up to the individual ISO/RTOs, states, provinces, etc. In fact, the various regions across North America each seem to have their own methodology for incorporating these resources into their resource adequacy and reserve-margin calculations. As the North American energy industry escalates its desire to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions through the expanded use of demand-side resources and intermittent renewables, the importance of this topic also will escalate.
How will carbon-emissions policies affect the generation fleet?
Any climate policy is almost certain to target the electric-power industry, which is responsible for about 38 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. Said policy especially would affect coal-fired power plants, which contribute about 82 percent of the electric power CO2 total. How would various policy options change the economic value of current and proposed generation assets?
How to develop balanced revenue-backed financing to manage the impacts of governmental mandates.
David Magnus Boonin
Severe upward pressure on electric rates after a decade of stability has regulators, legislators, utility executives, consumer advocates, and myriad other stakeholders searching for solutions. Revenue-backed financing can mitigate many of these mandate-driven rate increases significantly. These programs must, however, be designed to eliminate the inefficiencies and inequities that can be associated with revenue set-aside programs.
PJM loses luster in a squabble over market monitoring.
Bruce W. Radford
The bottom fell out in the hearing room at FERC on April 5 when witness Joseph Bowring let it slip that, yes, he might well prefer more independence from his employer in his role as chief of the market monitoring unit at the PJM Interconnection.
Duke Energy’s Jim Turner and other utility executives weigh the odds on billion-dollar bets.
The heavy investment required for new generation technologies clearly is a global phenomenon, but global-resource competition to build power plants is making power-plant development more expensive—and may even limit the number that any one utility in any one country can develop.
How private-equity firms may consolidate the utilities industry.
Financial acquirers of utilities face a higher hurdle than traditional acquirers because their reputation for seeking out-sized returns on highly leveraged, short-term investments doesn’t play well. Shaking off that reputation will lead to more effective consolidation.
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