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Fortnightly Magazine - October 2008

The Carbon-Smart Grid

Network intelligence yields green returns.

Fred Wellington and Forrest Small

A more sophisticated delivery network can yield “carbon value” via zero or low-emission generation, T&D efficiencies and innovative market strategies.

Transmission is Bubbling

A billion-dollar ‘gold rush’ could send grid rates through the roof.

Bruce W. Radford

Money may be difficult to come by for Wall Street financiers in these dark days, but apparently not for electric transmission construction—at least so far. A rash of recent orders from FERC shows that generous financial incentives remain available to companies seeking to expand the nation’s grid capacity.

The Path Forward

In the wake of the banking crisis, utilities lead the way to financial stability.

Michael T. Burr

The back-to-basics trend positioned utilities and other energy companies to lead the way out of Wall Street’s mess. Despite a perfect storm of rising costs and a weakening economy, utilities and lawmakers might start a wave of investments in clean-energy assets and technology. But will Wall Street be ready to finance it?

I Want My In-Home Display

Consumers await a revolutionary interface.

Steven Andersen

Consumers await the revolutionary interface that will allow them to control their energy consumption. Besides maximizing efficiency in the home, these units will allow more

price and product competition. But disincentives to innovation are making for slow progress.

Creating the New Utility CEO

Increasing risks call for a new generation of leaders.

Jeffrey E. Hyler and Robert G. Shields

Can new nuclear power plants get approved? Will wind generators get production tax credits? Will West Coast companies be allowed to re-permit their hydro plants? Will cap-and-trade legislation endanger the coal industry? And who will pay for the transmission of renewable energy? These critical questions still remain unanswered, but utility companies must forge a business strategy through the murk.

Conquering Time

Understanding the value of pumped storage.

Mark Griffith

Pumped-storage technology allows utilities to defer the time value of energy, but project developers have struggled to make their economics work. Increased demand for ancillary services and standby capacity might make pumped storage more viable.

Smart-Grid Analytics

Intelligent networks support better decision making.

Rick Nicholson

Sophocles once said, “Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.” Apparently Sophocles did not work in the utility industry. Utilities must make quick decisions every day to maintain a safe and reliable grid. As they have learned, the key to a quick and safe decision is making a well-informed decision. Yet utilities face challenges in providing enough information for their employees and automated systems to make these types of decisions.

A Time to Lead

The financial crisis calls on utilities to invest in America’s future.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

True story: At the dinner table recently, my 11 year-old son—who’s running for 6th grade student council—bemoaned the arguments he’s having with other candidates. I asked what they’re arguing about, and he said “Everything.” “Oh really? What’s your position on the mortgage bailout.” “It sucks!” he blurted. I countered, “But if we don’t do it, the financial system will collapse.”

Defensive Invention

Michael T. Burr

When the U.S. Patent Office published patent application number 11/626,810 in July 2008, few people noticed—at first. Soon, however, the metering-technology community was abuzz, mostly with outrage. If the Patent Office grants the patent and all its claims, other utilities would be legally forbidden from using any of the methods described, without first obtaining a license from the patent holders.

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