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Fortnightly Magazine - September 2008

Standard-Offer Service: Beauty or Beast?

Laurie H. Duhan and Sheldon Switzer

Is development of retail choice compatible with best-priced standard-offer service for smaller customers? Conflicting policy priorities threaten to distort Maryland’s retail energy markets.

AMI Standards: A Work in Progress

Vendors battle it out while utilities await common communications protocols.

Scott M. Gawlicki

Uncertainties about smart metering goals are hindering efforts to standardize communications protocols and feature sets. While vendors battle over standards, utilities and policy makers are moving forward anyway—despite the potential for setbacks.

RPS Race

As green mandates tighten, utilities scramble to comply.

William Atkinson

Mandatory renewable portfolio standards are becoming the norm. But after low-hanging green fruits are harvested, renewable power might get scarce. Many utilities will struggle to meet RPS requirements until lawmakers create stable federal policies and a national market for green credits.

Letters to the Editor

(September 2008) In July 2008, two pronouncements on energy policy were made by well-known and respected public figures, T. Boone Pickens and Al Gore. While the T. Boone Pickens and Al Gore proposals are timely and merit further evaluation, at this time continued dependence on oil imports and only modest progress in replacing fossil fuel use for power generation have to be accommodated.

People

(September 2008) ISO New England selected Vamsi Chadalavada as senior vice president and COO. PG&E Corp. announced that Peter A. Darbee, chairman, CEO and president, will assume added duties of CEO and president of subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Ontario Power Authority appointed Colin Andersen CEO. And others...

Breaking the Cartel

Michael T. Burr

Energy issues took center stage this summer. To get a reality check, we sought out Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. The Washington, D.C.-based think tank focuses on the interplay between energy policy and national security.

Nuking the Tar Sands

Can nuclear heat allow for low-cost commercial reclamation?

Michael F. Donnelly

Deposits of unconventional fuels—both crude oil and natural gas—occur in geological environments with very low energy. The exploitation of these low-energy deposits/reservoirs will require significant external energy to replace that lost or never provided by Mother Nature’s handiwork.

Transformer Change-out

New DOE rules mandate more efficient (and expensive) equipment.

Subba Nishtala and Karen Gregg Price

When a federal court ordered the DOE to develop more than 20 energy-efficiency rules, the first rule DOE created was a commercial rule for energy transformer distribution equipment. The new DOE rule, published at the end of last year, is the first increased efficiency standard created since the beginning of the Bush administration in 2001.

Diminishing Returns

Authorized ROEs shrink over time.

Michael T. Burr

This year’s Fortnightly 40 survey showed that while F40 companies have grown their average return on equity (ROE) in the past three years, those returns have grown slowly compared to some other measures—including appreciation in share prices.

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