Calendar of Events

Jul 08, 2014 to Jul 10, 2014 | San Francisco, CA
Jul 13, 2014 to Jul 16, 2014 | Dallas, TX
Aug 04, 2014 to Aug 15, 2014 | Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

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Public Utilities Reports

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Frontlines & Op-Ed

OMG Opportunity?

Electrifying the Android generation.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Those who don’t embrace new technologies will get left behind when the world changes around them. This is true across generations and across industries. At the same time, however, the telecom revolution offers a cautionary lesson about what motivates consumers and how it translates into business opportunities.

Green Quagmire

The black art of pricing social costs.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

At the Power-Gen International trade show in December, Questar Chairman & CEO Keith Rattie delivered a firebrand speech opposing the prospect of CO2 cap-and-trade legislation. To summarize, he said the Waxman-Markey climate bill is an “asinine” piece of legislation—which it is, as anyone who reads it quickly discovers. But more broadly, he said concerns about greenhouse gases (GHG) are based on incomplete science and politically motivated alarmism.

Subsidy Addiction

Government incentives are smothering free enterprise.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

When Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced legislation in November 2009 aimed at doubling America’s nuclear power capacity within 20 years, he compared the clean-energy challenge to fighting a war. “If we were going to war, we wouldn’t mothball our nuclear navy and start subsidizing sailboats,” he told attendees at the American Nuclear Society’s winter meeting. “If addressing climate change and creating low-cost, reliable energy are national imperatives, we shouldn’t stop building nuclear plants and start subsidizing windmills.”

Going Off the Record

Lawyers say what they really think about changing policies.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Lawyers get a bad rap in this country, and in some cases it’s well earned. However, during the month of October I enjoyed the distinct privilege of interviewing nearly a dozen of the industry’s most insightful, informed and hard-working people—all of them law-firm lawyers serving energy companies, regulatory agencies and customer groups.

Starting a Fire

Utilities cut support for climate-change deniers.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

This summer marked the 40th anniversary of a pivotal event in the environmental movement. On June 22, 1969, the oily surface of the Cuyahoga River caught fire, drawing national attention to the plight of America’s lakes and rivers. However, clean water standards didn’t begin with the Cuyahoga River fire, the EPA or the Clean Water Act. A series of common-law nuisance lawsuits, combined with a patchwork of state laws and (weak) federal statutes, preceded the comprehensive legislation that emerged from the smoke of the Cuyahoga. Today we’re seeing a similar progression in greenhouse gas regulation, with civil suits, state initiatives and marginal federal actions apparently marching toward a national climate policy.

Letters to the Editor

(October 2009) In his article “Paradox of Thrift, author James M. Seibert looks to be calculating his average service lives as the reciprocal of depreciation rates, whereas utility depreciation rates reflect both life and net salvage. For electric utilities, the cost of removal for most types of transmission and distribution property exceeds the salvage, resulting in the net salvage component having the effect of increasing the rate.

The New Normal

Our economic future depends on adaptability.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

For the past several months, analysts and pundits have been using the term “the new normal” to describe post-recession economic conditions. The phrase describes a variety of changes, from stock-market returns to personal savings rates, but it boils down to this: After the recession, the economy will go through a soft recovery, and it won’t return to pre-recession levels of financial and market activity in the mid-term future.

Hobson's Hamburger

It’s time to end the uncertainty about carbon costs.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

This summer marked a pivotal moment for the energy industry. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), a.k.a., the Waxman-Markey bill, which among other things would require the U.S. economy to cut its greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions 83 percent by 2050.

Letters to the Editor

(August 2009) When I hear the new buzz word term dynamic pricing I think of politicians who may be socialist or liberal, but who call themselves “progressive.” Now, what thoughtful person would not vote for a progressive. Do you want to vote for someone who isn’t progressive? That would make you some kind of Luddite. The same holds true for the people now running around the country calling for “dynamic pricing” i.e., charging $5/kWh for up to 100 hours per year, and calling any other form of pricing “dumb rates.”

Security vs. States' Rights

Will Congress dare to put local wires under federal control?

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Congress hasn’t amended the Federal Power Act in any way that would change the status quo, and a bright line still separates the distribution business from the federally regulated bulk-power system. Pending legislation, however, might change that.

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