TVA moving ahead with Babcock & Wilcox mPower small modular reactor; Bechtel begins refueling and uprate work at Xcel's Monticello plant; NRG starts operations at 66-MW PV facility; NIST starts developing cybersecurity framework under presidential order; BPA to upgrade HVDC converter station; PacifiCorp working with CAISO to create real-time energy market; Cupertino Electric to install 230-kV line for 200-MW PV plant; plus contracts and announcements from Alstom, Siemens, Echelon, EPRI, Sempra, and others.
(March 2013) NSTAR appoints new president; Southern Company names new financial management team; BPA gets new administrator; plus management changes at AEP, Duke, ITC, ConEdison, GDF Suez, ERCOT, MISO, NARUC, and others.
Constellation completes 16.1 MW PV project in Maryland; Ikea commissions 31st solar project, reaching 38 MW installed; IPL and MidAmerican install $545 million scrubber in Iowa; DTE partners with Enbridge and Spectra on pipeline for Utica shale gas; plus contracts and announcements from Dominion, Sempra, Southern Company, AEP, EPRI, Itron, Landis+Gyr, Opower and others.
Unforeseen consequences of dedicated renewable energy transmission.
Roger H. Bezdek and Robert M. Wendling
Achieving aggressive renewable energy goals will require building thousands of miles of new transmission lines, and these so-called “green-power superhighways” could bring major new sources of low-cost electricity into the market. But will those sources be renewables? Analysts Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling argue that with new access to distant wholesale markets, coal-fired generation would become more competitive than ever.
Discerning what utility employees consider important.
Despite high unemployment rates in many industries, utilities are finding T&D technicians and engineers are in short supply. This situation is likely to deteriorate as Baby Boom-era workers continue retiring. Attracting and retaining qualified professionals depends on understanding what motivates—and de-motivates—employees on the front lines of the smart grid revolution.
In the Pacific Northwest, you either spill water or spill wind.
The wind power industry has been up in arms ever since the Bonneville Power Administration earlier this year announced its Interim Environmental Redispatch and Negative Pricing Policy. That policy, applicable during periods of high spring runoff and heavy water flow volumes on the Federal Columbia River Power System, calls for BPA to redispatch and curtail access to transmission for wind power generating turbines, and to replace that resource with hydroelectric power generated via BOA hydroelectric dams, in order to avoid having to divert water through dam spillways, which could threaten fish and wildlife by creating excess levels of Total Dissolved Gas (TDG), which can cause Gas Bubble Trauma. Yet the legal issue remains unclear: Does this practice imply discrimination in the provision of transmission service, or is it simply a matter of system balancing and generation dispatch? In fact, the FERC may lack jurisdiction over the dispute, as it pertains to the fulfillment of BPA’s statutory mandates.
Shaping system transformation.
New technologies—and new expectations—require taking a fresh look at the institutions and practices that have provided reliable electricity for the past century. Collective action is needed to define the key attributes of a future grid and then to take the more difficult next step—adapting our processes and institutions to align with that future vision. A thoughtful approach will allow America to capture the potential value that’s offered by sweeping changes in technologies and policies.
Only the fittest solutions survive in America’s policy wilderness.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
All things being equal, momentous events like the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Arab spring would bring fundamental changes in U.S. energy policy. But things aren’t equal, and they never will be under America’s democratic and capitalistic process. Frustrating? Maybe, but it’s the only way to ensure our decisions are based on sound economic and environmental principles.
(March 2011) First Energy subsidiaries get new executives; Constellation names new treasurer, finance v.p., and CIO; Puget Energy gets new general counsel; plus senior staff changes at Dominion, Georgia Power, Parsons, California Energy Commission, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, and others.