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Fortnightly Magazine - July 2008

Revisiting the Keystone State

Rate caps have squelched competition in Pennsylvania.

Terrance J. Fitzpatrick

The prolonged period of capped rates in Pennsylvania—years longer than in any other state—has produced some benefits and some drawbacks. On the plus side, due largely to the rate caps, electricity costs in the Commonwealth have fallen from 15 percent above the national average in 1996 to below the national average in 2007. This has been a significant benefit, but a temporary one that many have taken for granted.

Navigating Nuclear Risks

New approaches to contracting in a post-turnkey world.

Tom Flaherty et al.

Sponsors of new nuclear power projects face a gauntlet of development challenges, from fickle regulatory policies to supply chain uncertainties. By preemptively addressing risks and taking a systematic, hands-on approach to development, companies can improve chances for a nuclear renaissance in America.

Nuclear Revolution

How to ease the coming upheaval in the nuclear power industry.

Paul W. Benson and Fred Adair

The U.S. nuclear power industry faces a yawning talent gap. Half of the industry’s employees are over 47 years old, and more than a quarter of nuclear workers already are eligible to stop working. Meanwhile, as the baby boomers retire, there will be far fewer available replacements with nuclear knowledge.

Is Yucca Enough?

Scenarios depict possible nuclear waste futures.

Greg Turk and Tom Sweet

Nuclear-waste management is a multi-billion dollar problem, and the future of nuclear power will depend on its resolution. Four scenarios depict possible outcomes and impacts on the electric power industry.

Going Mobile

Wireless systems are improving front-line processes.

Scott M. Gawlicki

Electric utilities throughout the country are rolling out an assortment of mobile workforce solutions, many of which already are found in other industries. Three mobile workforce solutions recently were implemented at National Grid in Long Island, New York, FirstEnergy in Akron, Ohio, and Idaho Power in Boise, Idaho. Each demonstrates the state of the art in a different slice of the operations pie: power generation, distribution system operations, and customer service.

Boucher's Gambit

A “clean” bill on carbon tech won’t stay clean for long.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

An interesting development in the climate change debate occurred this summer in the U.S. Congress. It wasn’t the Senate’s work on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act; that was a complete palaver and an embarrassment for American democracy. No, it was a bill quietly introduced by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chairman of the House Energy & Air Quality Subcommittee.

EV Resurrection

Michael T. Burr

Chelsea Sexton is one of the country’s leading plug-in vehicle advocates. She led protests against GM’s decision to scrap thousands of EV-1s, and appeared in the Oscar-nominated film Who Killed the Electric Car? She formed advocacy group Plug-In America, and led the creation of the Automotive X PRIZE in 2005. Fortnightly caught up with Sexton in June to discuss the electric vehicle market, and utilities’ role in developing it.

People

Northeast Utilities appointed Leon J. Olivier as executive vice president-chief operating officer. Calpine named Todd W. Filsinger interim chief operating officer. PJM Interconnection promoted Andrew Ott to senior vice president-markets. And others...

Letters to the Editor

Regarding "Transmission Rights Row:" While technological advances and the development of fiber optic communications was not foreseen by utilities companies when they executed easement agreements for transmission rights of way, the tremendous escalation of land values, especially near some metropolitan areas, may not have been foreseen by the easement grantors.

PV vs. Solar Thermal

Distributed solar modules are gaining ground on concentrated solar thermal plants.

Jonathan Lesser and Nicolas Puga

Photovoltaic technologies are beginning to appear more attractive than concentrated solar thermal plants. PV’s competitiveness is improving from technical and operational advancements, as well as significant commitments made by such utilities as Southern California Edison. In the long run, distributed central PV plants likely will gain a strong market position.

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