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Fortnightly Magazine - March 2009

Titans of Transmission

ITC and AEP jockey for the lead in building the grid of tomorrow.

Bruce W. Radford

On February 9, a group of the nation’s major grid system operators released a study estimating the nation’s electric industry sector needs to spend some $80 billion—more than 10 times the size of that portion of the Obama stimulus package directed specifically at transmission construction—in order to achieve a 20 percent retail penetration for renewable wind energy in just the Eastern Interconnection.

Transition to Dynamic Pricing

A step-by-step approach to intelligent rate design.

Ahmad Faruqui and Ryan Hledik

The advent of the smart grid is sparking interest in intelligent rate design. But while state and federal goals encourage more efficient rate structures, regulatory and political considerations complicate the process. Getting to a next-generation rate design will require a phased transition.

Rethinking 'Dumb' Rates

Achieving the smart grid’s potential requires a revolution in electricity pricing.

Rick Morgan

Achieving the smart grid’s potential requires a revolution in electricity pricing. Smart metering and smart rates might yield surprising and beneficial changes in the U.S. utility industry. But capturing those benefits will require an intelligent and careful approach to implementing dynamic pricing.

Five Nuclear Challenges

Building reactors requires new federal commitment.

Glenn S.K. Williams et al.

Several key barriers prevent the construction of a new U.S. nuclear power fleet. These barriers must be overcome to prevent a power-shortfall emergency.

Beyond The Downturn

Today’s challenges are transforming the industry.

Joseph Scalise and Neil Cherry

Today’s urgent challenges will reshape the industry. Companies that successfully renew themselves will find the solution in assets they already possess, but have failed to exploit. The future winners will navigate a steady course through troubled markets while preparing for disruptive trends.

Stabilizing California's Demand

The real reasons behind the state’s energy savings.

Cynthia Mitchell, et al.

In 2006, the California legislature and governor positioned energy conservation and efficiency as the cornerstone of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act. The Act mandates a 2020 statewide limit on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels. Compliance will be nothing short of Herculean: California will have to reduce per capita energy usage in a manner that accommodates continued brisk population growth and protects the state’s economy from economic dislocations and recessionary pressures.

People

(March 2009) Hawaiian Electric Industries named James A. Ajello senior financial v.p., treasurer and CFO. Black Hills Corp. selected Robert A. Myers as senior v.p. of human resources. Constellation Energy appointed Carim V. Khouzami as executive director, investor relations. And others...

Money to Burn

Smart-grid stimulus targets the wrong problem.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

The $800 billion stimulus bill has spawned a feeding frenzy among would-be recipients of the money. Smart-grid technology companies, for example, are excited about the bill’s $4.5 billion in 50/50 matching grants to “modernize the electric grid.” However, not everybody is cheering.

Goodbye Safe Haven?

Risk avoidance drives utility stock performance.

Jeffrey W. Miller, Michael Rutkowski et al.

Utility stocks historically have been a safe haven, a stable, long-term investment for widows and orphans. However, with banks collapsing and the economy falling into a recession, utility stocks as a whole recently have performed poorly, with our portfolio of 75 companies losing $200 billion in market value in 2008.