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Fortnightly Magazine - July 2010

Nuclear YIMBY

Local communities welcome new reactor projects.

Ann Stouffer Bisconti

Visitors to Waynesboro in northeast Georgia might be surprised at local residents’ opinions about two new nuclear energy plants planned for that site; namely, they’re giving the reactors a warm welcome.

People

(July 2010) Constellation promotes Maria Korsnick to Chief Nuclear Officer; Chip Pardee becomes Exelon’s COO; plus executive changes at American Transmission, Entergy, Idaho Power, New Jersey Resources, Northwestern Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, Pinnacle West, Spectra Energy, TVA, Williams, EPRI and more...

Got Prepaid?

Smart meters open the door to advance billing.

Scott M. Gawlicki

Investor-owned utility executives have long understood the benefits of prepaid metering, but technical and regulatory roadblocks have prevented wide-scale implementation. Now, however, two IOUs—Arizona Public Service and DTE—are planning prepaid metering programs that could be offered to all customers. Smart metering technology might pave the way for prepaid to become a standard service.

PURPA's Changing Climate

California defends its cogen feed-in tariff—complete with its own virtual carbon tax.

Bruce W. Radford

California’s new feed-in tariff (FIT) is creating a burgeoning market for green energy investments, but the policy has sparked a fierce battle over state authority to dictate wholesale power transactions. A federal case will determine whether the 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act pre-empts states from requiring purchases that exceed utilities’ avoided cost.

Penalty Predictability

Bringing fairness to FERC enforcement.

J. Michel Marcoux

FERC’s proposed penalty guidelines provide the opportunity for improved regulation. More practical and consistent characteristics for determining penalty fine ranges will increase penalty predictability for industry violations of federal regulations—and will make FERC’s enforcement more fair and transparent.

Solar Tech Outlook

Manufacturers scale up for utility applications.

Lori A. Burkhart

Photovoltaics technology is emerging as a generation alternative—both for centralized and distributed facilities. Solar industry executives say their companies are overcoming obstacles to large-scale implementation. With advances in design and manufacturing, the future looks bright for utility-scale solar power.

Nano Promise

Why thinking small can yield big returns.

Lori A. Burkhart

Nanomanufacturing technology works on the concept that materials reduced to the nano scale can show different and improved properties compared to those exhibited on a macroscale. For nanotech giant, Applied Materials, the ability to apply thin films at the atomic level is the answer to making solar energy more cost effective. Michael Splinter, chairman, CEO and president of Applied Materials, spoke with Fortnightly about nanotech developments for utility-scale solar.

Efficiency Close-Up

Setting the stage for conservation.

Lisa Wood

America’s electric utilities understand their central role in taking efficiency and conservation to the next level. Accordingly, the industry has nearly doubled its spending on efficiency measures in the past few years. But encouraging customers to save energy won’t be enough to keep pace with the electricity demands of a growing digital economy. The country’s efficiency efforts will be most effective as part of a clean energy portfolio strategy.

Blue Ribbon Mission

Can a broadly based committee resolve the nuclear waste dilemma?

John Bewick

The Department of Energy assembled an all-star Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. With such political and industry heavyweights as Brent Scowcroft, Lee Hamilton and John Rowe, the commission must be taken seriously. But can a broadly focused committee finish the decades-long battle to close the nuclear fuel cycle?

Tres Amigas Tie Up

Synchronizing networks to bring green power to market.

Jeremiah D. Lambert

In order to fully integrate wind and other dispersed sources of energy into the system, America’s patchwork transmission networks need to be more closely interconnected and synchronized. An advocate for the Tres Amigas merchant transmission project explains how the proposed facility will integrate the grid.

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