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Fortnightly Magazine - June 2007

Highlighting Interoperability

A decision-maker’s checklist provide a starting point—but not an end-point.

Alison Silverstein and Richard Schomberg

Recent predictions suggest that the U.S. electric industry will invest $300 billion in new transmission and distribution (T&D) facilities (including advanced meters) over the next decade, and $400 billion in new power plants over the next 25 years to meet forecasted demand growth. If we start now, we can build interoperability principles and capabilities into those investments and hasten the improvements in reliability, costs, innovation and value that interoperability can deliver.

Letters to the Editor

John S. Ferguson: I concur with Mark Williams’ assessment that the proposed KKR/TPG acquisition of TXU through a leveraged buyout (LBO) may “have negative consequences for Texas customers,” which he indicates as being a consequence of the nature of an LBO. I think it is more likely a consequence of the nature of the restructuring imposed by the Texas Legislature.

Stephen L. Teichler and Ilia Levitine: We take it with good humor that Scott Strauss and Jeffrey Schwartz used our report on the 9th Circuit’s recent Mobile-Sierra decisions as a foil to the grand argument that courts should return to the “statutory roots” in their interpretation of Mobile-Sierra.

A Primer on the PIM Framework

How enterprise risk management practices impact the Standard & Poor’s rating process.

Terry Pratt

About a year ago, Standard & Poor’s expanded the methodology used to review and assess the enterprise risk management practices of U.S. energy firms with trading desks. The methodology, known as the PIM framework, focuses on the three aspects of policies, infrastructure, and methodology, and produces a comprehensive evaluation of a firm’s risk management. The importance of each of these aspects in a company’s risk culture, and our opinion of its risk management quality, will depend on that company’s size, complexity, and range of risk.

A Climate Emergency?

Capacity shortages from global warming should be the real cause for alarm.

Richard Stavros, Executive Editor

Suppose the experts are wrong about climate change. Suppose they’ve underestimated the impact of global warming. Of course, to longtime readers of Public Utilities Fortnightly, the idea that a warming climate might force adjustments in utility resource plans is nothing new.

People

(June 2007) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the selection of Darren B. Ash as CIO and deputy executive director for information services. The Westar Energy Inc. board of directors announced that William Moore will succeed CEO James Haines. Energen Corp. shareholders re-elected five members to the diversified energy company’s board of directors. The Electric Power Supply Association announced the addition of Conrad Lass to EPSA’s senior staff as vice president of legislative affairs. And others...

Money Talks, Thermal Plants Walk

Why it pays for utilities to be more efficient.

Christian Hamaker

Working as chairman and chief scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute, the research institute he cofounded in 1982, Amory Lovins continues to sell his ideas to a more receptive industry, and he doesn’t hesitate to go after counter-arguments with which he disagrees.

Asset Ownership Takes New Shape

The North American electric-power sector remains highly fragmented, with much consolidation potential.

Devrim Albuz

During the last few years, the generating asset-ownership structure in North America has gone through a major change. During one of the most severe bust cycles of the industry, and the gradual recovery of the markets, significant amounts of assets have changed hands.

Where Have All the Mergers Gone?

EPACT and the repeal of PUHCA have not affected the pace of utility acquisitions.

Elliot Roseman and Kimberly Richardson

Why do we still have several hundred shareholder-owned electric utilities in the United States, not to mention several thousand municipal and cooperative ones?

Rating the New Risks

How trading hazards affect enterprise risk management at utilities.

Terry Pratt, Arleen Spangler, Richard Cortright, and Steve Dreyer

Over the past 15 years, trading’s role at utility companies has evolved substantially from ensuring sufficient power and fuel supplies for ratepayers to taking large, open, and speculative positions and maximizing asset value. Along with that evolution come a host of new business and financial risks for utilities.

The New Balance of Power

Do states have any rights in siting LNG terminals?

William A. Mogel and Shuchi Batra

Natural gas often is called the world’s most perfect fuel. And since it can be transported as liquefied natural gas (LNG), and, as LNG, is projected to meet 20 percent of the country’s natural-gas requirements by 2025, the construction of onshore LNG terminals is crucial for the United States. Siting of LNG terminals is contentious as states and a range of stakeholders challenge and seek to frustrate FERC’s permitting authority.

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