In an open letter to directors, IBM’s energy security lead recommends appointing a senior executive with authority to effect cultural change.
Achieving security requires a new office in the C-suite. An open letter to utility directors.
Customer satisfaction and electric utilities.
William P. Zarakas, Philip Q Hanser, and Kent Diep
The conventional wisdom about utility spending is correct, but key factors affecting customer satisfaction aren't obvious—and are tricky to control.
Decommissioning and remediation of coal- and oil-fired plants.
Bruce J. Baker, Jean H. McCreary, and Libby Ford
As new EPA regulations drive companies to decommission older power plants, utilities face issues involving plant retirement and demolition. Some sites can host new power plants, but many can be better used for other commercial purposes. Thoughtful planning and decommissioning strategies can bring the greatest value from underutilized assets.
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.
Providing reasonable options for customers who object to smart meters.
Stephen Hadden, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC)
Customers in some markets are demanding the right to opt out of smart meter deployments. Their concerns involve radio frequency (RF) emissions and potential privacy breaches. Whether these concerns are valid or not, some regulators are requiring options for customers who don’t want smart meters. The right approach can satisfy concerns without undue costs and complexities.
(December 2011) Responding to Contributing Editor John Bewick’s analysis of factors impeding the nuclear renaissance in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Plus comments about construction work in progress provisions as a strategy for saving ratepayers' money.
Renewing public support after Fukushima Daiichi.
The Fukushima disaster has fallen off the headlines, but fear of nuclear energy remains a potent barrier to new development—as well as continued operation of the current reactor fleet. Building the foundation for a stable industry will require a sustained and strategic approach to restoring and securing the public trust.
The consumer-centric smart grid and its challenge for regulators.
Charles J. Cicchetti and Philip Mause
Federal and state regulators play a critical role in the evolution of the smart grid. Lawmakers face a host of questions, from deciding who owns consumer data and how it can be used, to defining a new range of regulated and unregulated utility services and applications. How much regulation will be needed to manage the transformation to a smart grid? And how much regulation will be too much?
Smart grid evolution requires two-way communication—with meters and with customers themselves.
Despite the industry’s cautious and inconsistent approach, the smart grid is becoming a reality. Projects and pilots have provided valuable experience about what works and what doesn’t. Recent survey results illustrate the lessons utilities have learned—and how they’re changing their strategies.
(September 2011) Hawaiian Electric Industries CEO selected to serve on National Infrastructure Advisory Council; PPL Corp. names new president; FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company names new director of strategic industry initiatives; USEC Inc. appoints new vice president and chief audit executive; plus senior staff changes at Southern Company, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, Nebraska Public Power District, and others.