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Fortnightly Magazine - October 2011

Interesting Times

Utilities stay the course in a volatile market.

Michael T. Burr

A wave of mergers and acquisitions is moving through the industry, as utilities and financial players position for growth and strategic advantage. Will economic and regulatory forces continue supporting these transactions? Our annual finance special report examines trends in capital markets and M&A deals involving utilities, power generators and gas suppliers.

Smart Pricing, Smart Charging

Can time-of-use rates drive the behavior of electric vehicle owners?

Ahmad Faruqui, et al.

Time-of-use (TOU) pricing might seem like the ultimate solution to ensure electric vehicle charging loads won’t overburden the grid. But will TOU rates guide drivers’ behavior when it’s time to top up their batteries? Early indicators suggest the answer varies among vehicle owners and pricing plans.

Technology for the Masses

The consumer-centric smart grid and its challenge for regulators.

Charles J. Cicchetti and Philip Mause

Federal and state regulators play a critical role in the evolution of the smart grid. Lawmakers face a host of questions, from deciding who owns consumer data and how it can be used, to defining a new range of regulated and unregulated utility services and applications. How much regulation will be needed to manage the transformation to a smart grid? And how much regulation will be too much?

Facing Nuclear Fear

Renewing public support after Fukushima Daiichi.

John A. Bewick

The Fukushima disaster has fallen off the headlines, but fear of nuclear energy remains a potent barrier to new development—as well as continued operation of the current reactor fleet. Building the foundation for a stable industry will require a sustained and strategic approach to restoring and securing the public trust.

Achieving Interoperability

The smart grid requires utilities and regulators to assert leadership.

Dick DeBlasio

Adopting an interoperable framework for the smart grid isn’t just a question of technology standardization. It’s also about navigating the legal, regulatory, and business factors that affect technology implementation. Making the smart grid work will require utilities and regulators to assert leadership.

Vendor Neutral

(October 2011) Wind Capital group selects RMT Inc. to design and construct wind energy facility; MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. and SunEdison acquire Fotowatio Renewable Ventures; Solar Community and Reliant Energy team up to offer financing options; KEMA selects Green Energy Corp.’s software; Leviton unveils commercial electric vehicle charging stations; plus announcements and contracts involving Science Applications International Corp., Tantalus, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. and others.

Twist and Sulk

A fearful economy cries for industry leadership.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Many utilities have trimmed their capital spending in the face of economic weakness and regulatory uncertainty. At the same time, strong energy sales have boosted cash flow and profits. Backed by regulated returns and clear resource plans, the industry should step up infrastructure investments. Are we ready to lead America out of economic malaise?

People

(October 2011) Tennessee Valley Authority implements new leadership group; Foley & Lardner hires two partners; New York Independent System Operator names new consumer interest liaison; Alterra appoints new CEO; plus senior staff changes at Xcel Energy, Galvin Electricity Initiative, Arch Coal, and others.

Transactions

(October 2011) Genesis Solar obtains partial loan guarantee from Department of Energy; Midland Cogeneration, Dominion Resources and Duke receive underwriting; U. S. Department of Energy selects Abengoa Bioenergy for federal loan guarantee, and more.

Electric Avenue

Connecting vehicles to smart systems.

Leo McCloskey

Electric vehicles (EV) are just getting started, with rapid growth ahead. Plug-in hybrids and other EVs could capture 20 percent of the U.S. auto market by 2030. When planning for future infrastructure and technology needs, utilities face difficult questions about how EVs will interact with the utility grid. A comprehensive approach to communicating and integrating vehicle information will allow utilities and drivers to make the most of smart electric transportation.

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