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.
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?
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.
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.
Intelligent networks support better decision making.
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.
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.”
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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