Calendar of Events

Nov 24, 2014 | Washington, DC
Dec 08, 2014 to Dec 09, 2014 | Washington, DC
Jan 14, 2015 to Jan 16, 2015 | San Diego, CA

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Public Utilities Reports

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Frontlines & Op-Ed

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

CEOs on Change

Utilities adapt to a shifting landscape.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

The U.S. utility landscape is more dynamic and uncertain than it’s been since Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse waged their infamous war over alternating current—and the results might be just as fundamental to the industry’s future.

Green Imagineering

Perception trumps reality at Florida ‘solar city.’

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Once upon a time, a real estate developer dreamed of building a planned community. The developer, Syd Kitson, envisioned a “city of tomorrow™” in southwestern Florida, designed for efficiency, convenience and harmony with nature. Instead of driving cars everywhere, the 45,000 residents of Kitson’s Babcock Ranch would ride bikes to school, and walk to the cinema. They’d take a tram to visit friends in another hamlet, on the other side of a lush wildlife preserve.

Green with Envy

Efficiency products will proliferate, for better or worse.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

Recently an acquaintance of mine, who shall remain nameless, gave a diamond engagement ring to his girlfriend. She joyfully accepted the ring. But soon her joy turned to disgust when she learned that her lovely “diamond” actually was a cubic zirconium. Last I heard, she’d broken off the engagement and was dating her ex-fiancé’s former boss.

Letters to the Editor

Commissioner Rick Morgan of the Public Service Commission for the District of Columbia based his article, “Rethinking ‘Dumb’ Rates”, on the faulty premise that there is a consensus, either in the regulatory community or electric industry, or both, trending toward the immediate adoption of smart meters and dynamic rates and, worse yet, that such change should be embraced now just ‘cause it is today’s pretty amazing new stuff.

Money to Burn

Smart-grid stimulus targets the wrong problem.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

The $800 billion stimulus bill has spawned a feeding frenzy among would-be recipients of the money. Smart-grid technology companies, for example, are excited about the bill’s $4.5 billion in 50/50 matching grants to “modernize the electric grid.” However, not everybody is cheering.

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