Can utilities simultaneously manage rising costs and pressing capital investment needs?
Johannes P. Pfeifenberger
Does the utility industry have the financial strength sufficient to meet the combined challenges of: (1) sharply increasing and highly volatile fuel and purchased-power costs; (2) significant capital investment requirements; and (3) rising interest rates?
Market prices send investors clear signals to invest in the most efficient means for producing electricity.
Higher electricity prices have drawn sharp attention to the design of organized wholesale electricity markets—particularly to areas where residential customers’ rates will increase because multi-year rate freezes are ending. Some suggest changing the way that markets set wholesale electricity prices, or doing away with competitive markets entirely and returning to government regulation of prices. They say that the design of the markets exaggerates the effects of natural-gas price increases and unfairly rewards generators that use lower-cost fuels.
How to maintain continuous power supply while measuring for weak spots.
Peter van der Wielen and Barry Ward
Failures in medium-voltage power cables and their components cause a large proportion of annual power service interruptions, especially in high-density urban areas. Locating and repairing weak areas in cables at an early stage can improve the reliability of the energy supply considerably. Partial discharge testing is a proven condition assessment/test methodology.
Each DR portfolio will have a different set of AMI needs, based on overall technology infrastructure.
Ross Malme, Dr. Daniel Violette, Rachel Freeman, and Pete Scarpelli
Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) evaluations will benefit greatly from creating an appropriate DR portfolio as part of the overall solution.
In the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT), Congress sent a strong message to electric utilities, consumers, and industry regulators that they need to get serious about advanced metering, time-based rates, and demand response (DR).
To underline this point, EPACT states:
Call options can be used as a financing tool for fixed-cost renewable energy technologies.
An unexploited benefit of renewable energy is the predictability of operating costs over the long term. A renewables operator knows today how much it will cost to produce energy decades in the future. This future price certainty has a value that can be transferred to electricity buyers or other market participants. How much value can a renewable-plant operator capture from selling long-term call options, given several future price and volatility scenarios? What will be the cost and benefit to an individual buyer or seller?
Innovation must play a key role in each company.
Clark W. Gellings and Steve Hoffman
An EPRI vice president cites areas of concern in each part of the electricity value chain. How can IOUs overcome the formidable difficulties ahead of them?
Failing to address and adapt to the new ratemaking realities could result in increased costs for the economy.
Mark A. Jamison and Paul Sotkiewicz
The approaching 100th anniversary of regulation by public utility commissions in the United States calls for some reflection. How much have things changed, and how much have they stayed the same?
Not in all cases, or for all stakeholders. Here’s why.
Prescott Hartshorne and James Coyne
The industry perceives substantial benefits from consolidating. But what is the track record? Does the regulatory and strategic landscape suggest these mergers are beneficial?
Two sides of the same coin.
When I became the Consumers’ Counsel for the state of Ohio in April 2004, natural-gas prices were hovering between $7/Mcf and $8/Mcf (thousand cubic feet). In the next year and a half, Ohioans saw gas prices double, peaking at a residential statewide average of $16.89/Mcf in the month of September 2005. The latter reflects the exacerbation of prices, already high, by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the gulf region. The purpose of this article is not to focus on the national security and energy independence issues that arise from these circumstances, but rather to examine what we can do in the United States to ensure affordable and reliable supplies for residential consumers in both the short and long term.
Kyoto countries miss their targets, but scientists say climate change was already unstoppable.
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
Hollywood and the media are way ahead of the politicians when it comes to the greenhouse effect and global warming. But even as utilities try to be good corporate citizens and help devise a federal or national plan, the question remains as to whether the domestic economy can achieve even a modest reduction in CO2 releases—enough to put even a small dent in current predictions of global climate change.