Calendar of Events

Aug 04, 2014 to Aug 15, 2014 | Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Aug 11, 2014 to Aug 12, 2014 | New York, NY
Sep 08, 2014 to Sep 10, 2014 | Chicago, IL

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Public Utilities Reports

PUR Guide 2012 Fully Updated Version

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Frontlines & Op-Ed

Are We Smart Yet?

Rising expectations in the Dog Days of summer.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Yet another sweltering summer is causing its share of outages and supply problems, with predictable backlash from customers and policy makers. And with the advances we’ve seen in recent years, perhaps again we should be asking whether we’re adequately focused on our most critical mission: keeping the power on.

Letters to the Editor

(July 2012) Thanks for your enlightening editorial about the problems of feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic installations and the distortions they are causing in cost responsibilities among electric utility customers. While these issues are an immediate and growing concern, an entirely different set of problems will emerge over the next decade as the share of renewables in total generation approaches the high levels being dictated by most regulatory authorities.

The Methane Myth

Incompetence and overreach at the EPA.

E. Scott Pruitt

The EPA’s new method for measuring the amount of methane that escapes from natural gas wells is based on flawed data. Oklahoma’s attorney general says this misguided policy decision treads on state regulatory authority and stifles resource development.

Rooftop Tsunami

Utilities sound the alarm as PV nears grid parity.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

A growing wave of rooftop PV projects is starting to look ominous to some utilities. Will lawmakers accept utilities’ warnings at face value—or will they suspect they’re crying wolf?

Facing Facts About Solar

Distributed solar might be a game changer, but at what cost?

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

My friend Reggie recently asked me for advice about installing photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of his boathouse on the river. It has no electricity now, but he wants just enough PV to power a few lights, an automatic garage door opener, and the occasional power tool. I told Reggie the same thing I tell everybody who asks me about rooftop solar: it's exciting but still expensive. Then Reggie explained why I was wrong.

What Happened at Beacon

Election politics almost killed a great idea.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Beacon Power filed bankruptcy last fall, amid a political firestorm sparked by Solyndra’s demise. But should the company have received a bailout, so it could continue operating until FERC’s new pay-for-performance rules take effect?

Edison Under the Hood

Can utilities put EV batteries in the rate base?

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Thomas Edison once hoped to make a fortune in the auto business—selling electric cars. Of course it never happened; he and Henry Ford tried and failed to bring a low-cost electric car to market. They scuttled the project after investing $1.5 million toward the effort—more than $32 million in today’s dollars. Edison’s nickel-iron batteries just couldn't match the performance of Ford’s petrol-powered bang-bang.

Race to the Bottom

Two Eastern governors make war against markets.

Glen R. Thomas

The governors of New Jersey and Maryland have embarked on a crusade that could topple competitive energy markets in their states—and perhaps beyond. Glen R. Thomas, former chairman of the Pennsylvania PUC, challenges policy makers in the two states to stand up for free markets and stop a destructive race to the bottom.

Technology Wins

Economics, not politicians, will determine what tools are best.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Today’s utility business model depends chiefly on big power plants and long transmission lines—and federal and state policies reinforce that model. But as photovoltaics technology advances and systems get ever cheaper, distributed generation eventually might become the more competitive option. At that point, upstart companies might be better positioned than utilities to capture a share of this growing market, because they won’t be constrained by Edison-era economics.

Partners in Power

Complex problems call for collective measures.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Among all of the investment priorities in the U.S. electric power industry, one stands out as having the greatest momentum: transmission. This is interesting because transmission is perhaps the most difficult type of power infrastructure to develop, and has been for decades. Editor Michael T. Burr talks with executives at Xcel Energy and Great River Energy to learn how the CAPX2020 consortium has managed to succeed where others failed.

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