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Fortnightly Magazine - February 2011

New Directions in Distribution Management

Advanced systems turn ‘event-driven’ binary schemes into hybrid hierarchical controls.

Jeff Meyers

Advanced distribution management systems (DMS) are providing unprecedented levels of control and efficiency. With greater knowledge about system loading and status, utilities can better make investment decisions—and operators will be better able to keep the lights on as the power system evolves.

Pay by Text

SMS offers an alternative to paper billing. Smart Meters Driving Adoption Customer Engagement Supporting the Payment Process Learning from Europe

Holly Merrill

Text messaging promises benefits in customer service and bill-payment efficiencies. Utilities have been slow to take up the opportunities, but successes in other industries and among European utilities is opening the door to SMS transactions for American power companies.

Vendor Neutral

(February 2011) Silver Spring integrates Itron meters; PECO picks Sensus; AT&T and Elster sign agreement; PSEG Fossil selects ABB for a multi-phase controls project; Trilliant secures equity financing and wins Burbank ARRA contract; Navigant buys BTM Consult; GE acquires SmartSignal; plus contracts and announcements from Survalent, Mitsubishi Motors, AES Energy Storage and others.

Transactions

(February 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 ...

Parochial Power Play

Northeastern politicians declare war on capacity auctions.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in February signed into law a bill that will have the state commissioning construction of 2,000 MW of new gas-fired power capacity and dumping it into the PJM capacity market at a $0 price. Maryland is considering a similar capacity-dumping scheme. What’s behind these efforts to manipulate capacity auctions — regional constraints or local politics?

Rethinking Spent Fuel

John A. Bewick

Could a TVA-style Fed Corp model be the answer to America’s ongoing nuclear waste dilemma? A bill sponsored by the new Senate Energy Committee chairman proposes to create just such a corporation. Constellation’s Henry (Brew) Barron discusses the proposal — and its prospects for enactment in the current political environment.

People

(February 2011) American Electric Power names new president; Edison International promotes two to e.v.p.; DPL elevates Craig Jackson to vice president and treasurer; INGAA names new director of communications; plus personnel changes at Constellation, Consumers Energy, Southwest Power Pool, and other organizations.

Chicken-Egg Solution

Solar and wind developers learn to shift project risk to the grid.

Bruce W. Radford

As Google says, “the wind cries for transmission.” But the opposite is true as well: without new wind and solar energy projects, we would not need to build so many new transmission lines. Each side needs the other, yet neither dares declare too soon, and risk weakening its bargaining position. That is, until one utility in California found a way to break the impasse, with each side scratching the other’s back — thus putting to rest the age-old question, “Which came first, the . . . ?”

Capacity Contest

Raising the stakes in RTO markets.

Michael T. Burr

Generators and demand-response providers are reaping rewards in forward capacity auctions, causing suppliers to go shopping for the most lucrative markets. Now the Midwest ISO is trying to catch up, by proposing its own auction for years-ahead resource bids. But does RTO shopping serve the interests of customers, who are legally entitled to rates that are just and reasonable? Why are some state policy makers advocating a return to old-school RFPs for long-term contracts?

Smart Grid in America and Europe (Part II)

Past accomplishments and future plans.

Zhen Zhang

Policy makers in the E.U. and the United States are taking different approaches to facilitating smart grid development. While both regions are setting standards that the rest of the world likely will follow, they also face difficult challenges in resolving issues around cost recovery, customer engagement and workforce preparedness.

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