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Fortnightly Magazine - January 2011

Vendor Neutral

Burbank Water and Power selects Tropos Networks for smart grid project, Survalent Technology installs SCADA system for Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association, Gemma Power Systems signs contract with Bishop Hill Energy, American Superconductor selects subcontractors for the Tres Amigas SuperStation transmission hub in Clovis, N.M., and more ...

Transactions

(January 2011) PPL acquires E.ON U.S. LLC, NRG Energy acquires generating station from Kelson, ArcLight Capital buys into OGE’s Enogex Holdings LLC joint venture and more ...

Can You Hear Me Now?

Cellular carriers challenge mesh-network dominance.

By Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Now that wireless carriers are promoting their networks as a cost-effective communications platform for smart grid data, they face legitimate questions about fundamental performance issues. But if public networks turn out to be the better choice in many cases, utilities might have some explaining to do before state commissions.

Letters to the Editor

(January 2011) Gold Mine or Fool’s Gold?: Debt is recorded on the right side of the balance sheet in recognition that it’s a source of capital, but users of financial statements recognize that it isn’t cash. Likewise, users of financial statements would recognize that moving the book reserve to the right side would not cause it to suddenly become cash.

People

NARUC elects new Executive Committee, Arizona State University chooses former ACC Commissioner Mayes as head of new program at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, executive announcements at Southern Company, Calpine, Dominion and more.

Solar Village

Combined efforts bring mutual benefit.

By Julia Hamm

Regardless of what drives the action — state regulation, federal policy, economic reality — collaboration between utilities and the solar industry is now becoming prevalent. Expanding definitions of utility solar business models represent a significant potential for solar market growth, and provide paths for others to follow.

Leaning on Line Pack

Green energy mandates might overburden gas pipelines.

By Diane A. Rigos, Boris L. Shapiro and Richard L. Levitan

Market rules could evolve to compensate gas suppliers for pressurizing pipelines when needed on short notice. Enhanced ancillary services will require innovative strategies using line pack in interstate pipelines and stepped up communication among gas and electric market participants to preserve reliability objectives in gas and electric markets.

Too Much Reliability

NERC confronts a case backlog now numbering in the thousands.

By Bruce W. Radford

The case backlog of unprocessed electric reliability violations is growing out of control, threatening to “swamp” the industry — a sign, perhaps, that when Congress and FERC modernized the electric reliability regime to serve a more market-based industry structure, and for the first time gave enforcement authority to North American Reliability Corp. (NERC) as the nation’s official electric reliability czar, no one gave much thought, apparently, as to whether NERC’s very idea of what constitutes reliability might have needed modernizing as well.

Saving The Smart Grid

Hype, hysteria, and strategic planning.

By Steven Andersen

The industry is learning some painful lessons about public communication. Hype has given way to hysteria over smart grid rollouts, and forced many companies to re-think their strategies. Capturing the benefits of new technology requires a straightforward approach to selling the benefits — and facing the costs.

C&I Customers Get Smart

Technology creates new opportunities for demand- side management

By Kristin Brief and Brad Davids

Customer value is a key factor in any smart grid business case. But not all customers are created equal. In particular, commercial and industrial (C&I) customers have greatly different needs, considerations and sensitivities, compared to residential customers. As a result, demand response and efficiency programs won’t produce the same results across customer classes. Getting the most from the C&I market will depend on integrating smart grid with smart building technologies.

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