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Fortnightly Magazine - February 2009

People

(February 2009) Portland General Electric (PGE) announced Maria M. Pope as senior v.p. of finance, CFO and treasurer. Hawaiian Electric Co. named Richard M. Rosenblum president and CEO. UniSource Energy named Paul J. Bonavia as its chairman, president and CEO. Midwest ISO announced John H. Bear, currently president and COO, will succeed T. Graham Edwards as CEO. And others...

Obama vs. Reality

Even blue-sky goals fall short.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Obama has set high expectations for his administration. But as the president acknowledged in his inaugural address, fulfilling those expectations won’t be easy. For the U.S. power and gas industry, the specific questions are whether Obama really means what he says about energy policy; whether his policy priorities are sufficient to accomplish the goals he’s set; and whether his “Yes we can!” strategy can survive in the real world, with all its practical constraints and party politics, after the “change” buzz subsides.

Clear Skies for Gas

Unconventional sources brighten the U.S. supply outlook.

Henry R. Linden

The future of natural gas supplies in the United States looks promising due to rising projections of recoverable resources, including unconventional production. A strong supply outlook bodes well for using natural gas as a low-emission transportation fuel.

Wooing the Western Wind

How a move to bring power markets to the Great Plains has uncovered a crisis in grid planning.

Bruce W. Radford

They call the United States the “Saudi Arabia of Wind.” That’s due in large part to the huge potential of the Great Plains. But there’s a hole in the metaphor. Wind power development in some parts of the prairie is falling short of expectations.

Risk Management Forum: Desperately Seeking Liquidity

Troubled markets drive defensive tactics.

Michael T. Burr

The credit crisis has split U.S. utility companies into the haves and have-nots. Companies that planned ahead are enjoying the benefits of liquidity, while the rest are struggling to manage their financial risks in a volatile market. Nevertheless, companies across the sector are cutting spending and deferring projects as they weather the storm.

Transmission Incentive Overhaul

FERC’s ROE incentive adder policy sends the wrong signals.

Scott H. Strauss and Jeffrey A. Schwarz

FERC is offering incentive rates to entice transmission investment. But the authors identify serious flaws in emerging policy regarding return on equity (ROE) incentive adders. Determining whether and when ROE adders are appropriate requires a more deliberative approach.

Auction or Allocate

The great debate over emissions allowance distribution.

Sam Napolitano et al.

Various approaches to distributing emissions allowances spark a heated debate over costs and fairness, but the allocation methodology doesn’t determine whether a regulatory scheme will reduce emissions. Auctioning allowances and distributing them for free both offer advantages and challenges for a successful cap-and-trade system.

Redefining PV Capacity

Effective metrics give solar its due credit.

Richard Perez, et al.

Photovoltaic (PV) power generation is an intermittent, non-dispatchable resource generally considered as energy-only with no capacity credit. However, there is ample evidence that solar energy reliably is available at peak demand time when loads are driven by day-time commercial air conditioning, and can contribute effectively to increasing the capacity available on a regional grid.