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Fortnightly Magazine - May 2008

What Happened in ERCOT

Voltage sag shows value of accurate wind forecasting.

Michael T. Burr

Variability is a well-known characteristic of windpower, and system operators know they must plan for changes in wind generation over the course of a day. But when those plans fall short, voltage levels can drop quickly, forcing grid operators to dispatch resources to make up the difference—either by shedding load or bringing reserve generation online.

Green Heroes

Utilities can transform the world’s energy economy.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Perceval’s sagas are largely forgotten today, but at least one of them serves as a useful metaphor for an industry seeking the proverbial Holy Grail of clean-energy technology—specifically, the tale of Perceval and the Fisher King.

Finding the 'Sweet Spot'

Bruce W. Radford

As president and CEO of ISO New England, Gordon van Welie has his feet planted firmly on each of two sides of a cultural divide. First, as a transmission system operator, van Welie must keep the lights on and the wires humming. At the same time, he must run a regional market—an ongoing experiment in freewheeling capitalism in an industry fraught with more long-term uncertainty than perhaps any other.

People

The New York ISO named Mary McGarvey its vice president and chief financial officer. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced that its board of directors elected Barbara Barcon as vice president, finance and chief financial officer. Henry B. “Brew” Barron was appointed president, chief executive officer and chief nuclear offer of Constellation Energy Nuclear Group. MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. announced that Gregory E. Abel became the chief executive officer. And others...

Letters to the Editor

In light of your prescient Frontlines column, “PURPA Redirected” (February 2008), I am curious of your insight. Is there a nexus between §571 of EISA and the demand response (DR) text in the pending FERC NOPR, RM07-19-000, “Wholesale Competition in Regions with Organized Electric Markets,” issued Feb. 22, 2008?

Carbon Transparency

Public companies face rising pressure to disclose climate-change risks.

Sey-Hyo Lee and Marushka Bland

Regulation of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions and other efforts to control these growing environmental concerns increasingly are impacting businesses, and investors are seeking more and better information on climate-change risks to make informed investment decisions.

Seeing Green

Wind deals promise brisk business for years to come.

Michael T. Burr

(May 2008) Senators were voting on legislation to extend the renewable production tax credit (PTC) as this issue of Fortnightly went to press. But with federal tax support for windpower in a perennial state of limbo, is the current rate of growth sustainable? To find out, Fortnightly spoke with Andrew Redinger, managing director and head of the utility and alternative energy group at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

The High Cost of "Free" Capacity

Fickle behavior by LSEs threatens to destabilize organized markets.

Guillermo Israilevich

Dodging capacity payments might become an art form among load-serving entities and large electric consumers, as evidenced by Duquesne’s plan to exit PJM, as well as alternative market-designs proposed by large users. But such behaviors might only serve to disrupt organized markets and cause a return to full regulation.

No Generator Left Behind

A new theory on capacity markets and the missing money.

Bruce W. Radford

On Wednesday May 7, FERC will host a conference in Washington, D.C. that might prove extraordinary. The commission staff promises not only to review the forward capacity markets now operating in New England and PJM—each a story unto itself—but also to discuss a new rate-making theory that has come virtually out of nowhere and which proposes to help solve the notorious “missing money” problem.

Energy Technology: Cultivating Clean Tech

New Models for Energy RD&D: A new ‘Clean Energy Institute’ could lead the industry’s war on climate change.

John A. Bewick

Clean-energy R&D needs better funding and leadership to meet aggressive greenhouse-gas emissions reduction targets. But how does the industry get there, and what management model best suits achieving such lofty goals? A new ‘clean-energy institute’ might be the answer.

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