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Fortnightly Magazine - December 2010

Climate Burnout

Shale gas makes it easy to be green.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

In terms of the political calculus, GHG regulation faces an uncertain future, at least into 2013. And as a flood of cheap gas erodes the perception of an impending environmental crisis, politicians will have less incentive to impose carbon constraints. Does shale gas signal the end of the road for greenhouse gas regulation?

People

(December 2010) Steven Specker joins Southern Company board; Chesapeake Utilities names Michael McMasters CEO; Ethics inquiry leads to dismissals and new president at Duke Indiana; plus executive management announcements at American Transmission, Oncor, FirstEnergy, Alliant, NYISO, Gridwise Alliance, the Organization of MISO States, and more ...

IFRS and You

How the new standards affect utility balance sheets.

Bente Villadsen, Amit Koshal & Wyatt Toolson

Over the next year (or years), companies in Canada and the U.S. will make the transition towards adopting International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). These standards will have a substantial effect on the reporting requirements and financial disclosures of regulated companies. Utilities are preparing their accounting processes to meet a new regulatory standard.

The Bullish Case For Uranium

Higher prices to come?

Ed Brezinski

For decades, global uranium suppliers have been providing low cost reactor fuel in plentiful supplies. However the market is changing, and nuclear fuel prices are set to increase. Some plants will be affected more than others, but the age of uranium cost certainty is coming to an end.

First Refusals, Least Regrets

What California can teach FERC about transmission planning.

Bruce W. Radford

The California ISO is going its own way with its proposal for transmission planning, virtually ignoring FERC’s proposed rules on transmission planning and cost allocation. California wants to bring method to the madness of developing transmission projects, and its approach has raised hackles in the industry. The dispute defines the battle over America’s most attractive market for rate-regulated investment.

Repowering with Biomass

Waste fuels struggle despite coal’s decline.

William Atkinson

Fuel supply might be the biggest barrier to scaling-up biomass power generation, but it’s by no means the only problem. Utility projects to repower coal-fired plants face permitting challenges, ballooning technology costs and strained economics. Some owners are giving up the fight.

Biocoal Options

A new future for small coal-fired plants.

Adam Borison, Gregory Hamm and Philip Narodick

Small coal-fired plants are particularly vulnerable to economic and environmental pressures, putting some plant owners in what seems like a no-win position. But an emerging option—biocoal from crop wastes—might give small coal units a new lease on life.

Commerce Clause Conflict

In-state green mandates face Constitutional challenges.

By Richard Lehfeldt, Woody N. Peterson, and David T. Schur

In effort to promote local green energy resources, some states are enacting policies that tread on federal authority. Restrictions on power imports to satisfy RPS requirements might violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Can the states foster home-grown energy without running afoul of federal laws?

Nuclear Renaissance and the Global Supply Chain

Avoiding pitfalls, realizing benefits.

By Nathan Ives, Steve McCabe and Gary Gilmartin

Unlike the first generation of domestically sourced plants, new reactors being built in America will draw from a global supply chain for a wide range of materials, equipment and services. This poses a more complex set of challenges, from obtaining talent and material to qualifying and validating product sources.

What Happened in Texas

Evaluating smart meters and public backlash.

By Mike Rutkowski and Todd Lester

After ratepayers brought a class-action lawsuit against distribution utilities, Texas regulators commissioned a study of the state’s new smart meters. The study explains why customers reacted the way they did, and offers insights into how the industry can avoid a Texas-style backlash.

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