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Fortnightly Magazine - November 2011

Vendor Neutral

(November 2011) Hitachi Power Systems America wins contract from Westar Energy; City of Fort Collins selects Elster, Siemens Energy, eMeter and Tropos GridCom to provide systems for its AMI project; Energate to supply smart thermostats for Oklahoma Gas & Electric; Jackson Municipal Electric Department selects Survalent Technology for a new SCADA system; Eastern Nebraska Public Power District Consortium selects ABB to implement an advanced smart grid-based SCADA; plus announcements and contracts involving EnerSys, S&C Electric, Siemens and others.

Battle Lines:

2011 Groundbreaking Law & Lawyers Survey and Report

Michael T. Burr

With a flurry of major new environmental regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is altering the power generation landscape. But will the new federal rules survive court challenges—to say nothing of next year’s national elections? Fortnightly's Michael T. Burr considers the controversy over new environmental standards. PLUS: Top Utility Lawyers of 2011.

Smart Coaching

Customers won’t join the team unless utilities make it worthwhile.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Are utilities ready to really engage customers, and get them to care about more than just whether the beer stays cold? Or will we turn our focus away from customers, because we don’t know how to engage them — or how to convert engagement into value?

People

(November 2011) Exelon and Constellation announce post-merger executive lineup; Xcel Energy names new CFO and general counsel; Organization of MISO States elects new officer; plus senior staff changes at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating, American Electric Power, Alterra Power, and others.

Restoring Financial Balance

With looming mandates and aging infrastructure, utilities need regulatory support.

H. Edwin Overcast

The balance of stakeholder interests in utility ratemaking has shifted over the past decade toward achieving social policy goals. A more sustainable balance is required if utilities and regulators hope to preserve utility service quality and affordability.

Treading Water

Despite market turmoil, state commissions refuse calls for an ROE boost.

Phillip S. Cross

(November 2011) Our annual survey of rate cases shows that despite volatility in financial markets, state regulators are holding utilities to a high standard for boosting their returns on equity (ROE). The latest data is added to Fortnightly.com's exclusive online ROE survey database, the largest free source of rate case information anywhere on the Web.

Bench Report: Top Ten Legal Decisions of 2011

Bruce W. Radford 

1. ‘Policy’ Guides the Grid; 2. Carbon Not a Nuisance (Yet); 3. Gigabucks for Negawatts; 4. A MOPR, Not a NOPR; 5. Ramp Up the Frequency; 6. Cap-and-Trade Still Lives; 7. Cyber Insecurity; 8. Korridor Killer; 9. The Burden Not Shared; 10. Ozone Can Wait.

EPA's Winding Road

How we got here and what to expect.

Jean Agras

New air quality regulations, including the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, have prompted substantial investments in emission control upgrades. But a series of additional standards—for mercury, toxins, cooling water and ash residue—are driving delays and shutdowns in the coal-fired power fleet. Investment decisions depend on a clear understanding of where EPA is headed, and how the new regulations will affect generators’ costs—and market prices.

Greenhouse Chill

Has the Supreme Court frozen climate change litigation?

Wansheng Jerry Liu and David Restaino

The Supreme Court’s decision in American Electric Power v. Connecticut strongly limits private nuisance actions against greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters by keeping these cases out of federal court. But the AEP decision won’t stop lawmakers from enacting new GHG regulations, and it won’t prevent plaintiffs from suing emitters in state courts.

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