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Fortnightly Magazine - May 2007

Winds of Change Freshen Resource Adequacy

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.

The Change in Profit Climate

How will carbon-emissions policies affect the generation fleet?

Victor Niemeyer

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?

Mitigating "Mandated" Rate Hikes

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.

Pulling An Inside Job

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.

Power-Plant Development: Raising the Stakes

Duke Energy’s Jim Turner and other utility executives weigh the odds on billion-dollar bets.

Richard Stavros

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.

Spending Capital as if It Mattered

Infrastructure challenges are redefining utility capital-planning methods.

Tom Flaherty and Tim Gardner

The capital pressures squeezing utilities today need to be offset by stronger alignment among the four critical dimensions of capital planning: strategic, regulatory, financial, and managerial.

Building a Utility Roll-up Machine

How private-equity firms may consolidate the utilities industry.

Markian Melnyk

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.

The Mobile-Sierra Doctrine: A Return to Its Statutory Roots

The 9th Circuit’s Snohomish and PUC decisions rationalize what has been a confusing, conflicted area of law.

Scott H. Strauss and Jeffrey A. Schwarz

The 9th Circuit Court’s Snohomish and PUC decisions seek to rationalize what has been a confusing, conflicted area of law.

CIS: Middleware Mashup: Smart Grid and the Back Office

Utilities are learning how smart-grid data will interface with CIS and other back-office systems. Meters and middleware are rapidly evolving in this brave new world.

Michael T. Burr

The manager of technology services for Phoenix-based Salt River Project (SRP) is tasked with implementing a revolutionary process for one of the most progressive public power utilities in the country. Specifically, he is working to integrate data from SRP’s smart meters (140,000 and counting) into the utility’s back-office processes—particularly customer service and billing.

Workforce Automation: Where Rubber Meets Road

Michael T. Burr

The purpose of utility-system automation, in a nutshell, is to bring utility service into the 21st century. These advancements will help improve customer service by allowing utilities to respond sooner to situations that cause outages—but only if workforce processes make use of the intelligence these new systems provide.

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