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Fortnightly Magazine - September 2008

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.

Avalanche Economics

Alaskan crisis demonstrates pocketbook power.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

A series of avalanches thundered down the sides of coastal mountains near Juneau, Alaska, early in the morning on April 16. No people were hurt—not directly. But the avalanches took out several transmission towers that carried electricity from the Snettisham hydroelectric dam, cutting Juneau off from its primary source of power. The resulting crisis turned into an instructive experiment for Alaska Electric Light & Power Co.—Juneau’s privately held utility—as well as the industry in general.

Capital Conundrum

The Big Build will test the industry’s access to Wall Street.

Bob Ford, et al.

The era of easily available, affordable energy rapidly is ending and our society is realizing that our energy infrastructure is severely inadequate to supply the energy demands of the future. The major issue facing the sector today is how to fund and deliver this new climate-friendly infrastructure, which is currently estimated will cost almost $2 trillion between now and 2030.

Buyer's Remorse

The PJM complaint and the rising cost of electric reliability.

Bruce W. Radford

Who says ratepayers must accept the traditional measure of electric reliability—a single one-hour outage every ten years? If shown the bill ahead of time, might they decide otherwise; that such luxury is no longer affordable? Consumers are making similar decisions about gasoline and mortgages. Why not electricity?

Portfolio Primer

How to maximize shareholder value across the enterprise.

Blake Geoghagan, et al.

How can utility companies ensure investment dollars are being allocated wisely? Asset portfolio management (APM) attempts to capture and analyze the relationships among the drivers of SHV at the portfolio level. It provides management with a well-informed, multi-dimensional picture to help make efficient asset investment decisions that optimize the total enterprise SHV.

The Fortnightly 40

Michael T. Burr

(September 2008) Shareholder value remains strong as the Big Build begins. Our fourth annual ranking shows healthy growth in earnings and share prices. But as capital spending grows, dividends are shrinking and equity returns are weakening. Regulatory relationships will separate future winners from losers.

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.

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