Utilities are struggling to predict the costs of greenhouse gas regulation. In the quest for a greener planet, how much should consumers be asked to pay for environmental benefits that might be difficult to measure?
Pre-approvals demand a new approach to managing risks and costs.
Kris R. Nielsen, Patricia D. Galloway and Charles W. Whitney
Proving the need for new infrastructure construction for energy purchases has become more complicated for utilities. State commissions reserve the right to revisit rate-base investments after the fact, even when they’ve been pre-approved.
Technologies are scaling up quickly to meet industry needs.
Scott M. Gawlicki
Like other California electric utilities, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been scrambling to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires suppliers to obtain at least 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2010. Though the RPS includes a variety of technologies, renewables developers are choosing utility-scale solar power more than any other resource, says Hal La Flash, PG&E’s director of emerging clean technologies.
With the administration and Democratic lawmakers in Congress pushing to enact greenhouse-gas (GHG) regulation, nuclear power has taken center stage as both a clean technology solution and a political bargaining chip. Consequently, the industry’s hopes for new construction projects have brightened considerably. Whether this policy momentum can usher in a sustainable nuclear renaissance, however, remains questionable at best.
Federal failure to fulfill spent-fuel obligations creates expensive risks.
For more than 50 years, the federal government has failed to manage spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW), imposing the burdens for this critical function on the private sector. Nuclear plant operators incurred upwards of several hundred million dollars per reactor in uncompensated expense and risk premiums, and potentially face decades of additional costs and risks coping with SNF and HLW.
Government incentives are smothering free enterprise.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
When Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced legislation in November 2009 aimed at doubling America’s nuclear power capacity within 20 years, he compared the clean-energy challenge to fighting a war. “If we were going to war, we wouldn’t mothball our nuclear navy and start subsidizing sailboats,” he told attendees at the American Nuclear Society’s winter meeting. “If addressing climate change and creating low-cost, reliable energy are national imperatives, we shouldn’t stop building nuclear plants and start subsidizing windmills.”
(December 2009) Con Edison named Craig S. Ivey as president. American Electric Power (AEP) promoted Brian X. Tierney to executive v.p. and CFO. FirstEnergy named Tony C. Banks as v.p. product and business development for FirstEnergy Solutions. Exelon named Douglas J. Brown as senior v.p. and chief investment officer following a 26-year career with Chrysler. And more...
In the world of utility bill payments, few issues have generated more controversy than the use of credit, debit and pre-paid cards. Generally, regulated utilities have been unable to build a compelling business case to offer no-fee card payments to customers, preferring instead to partner with third-party processors (TPPs) who happily charge convenience fees to card users.
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