Congress pours tax benefits into efficiency and renewables.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Of the many provisions in the bailout bill, few of them actually establish new federal policy. Instead, most just continue existing provisions that already were set to expire, and probably would have been enacted in some form—if not this session, then next session.
A billion-dollar ‘gold rush’ could send grid rates through the roof.
Money may be difficult to come by for Wall Street financiers in these dark days, but apparently not for electric transmission construction—at least so far. A rash of recent orders from FERC shows that generous financial incentives remain available to companies seeking to expand the nation’s grid capacity.
Network intelligence yields green returns.
Fred Wellington and Forrest Small
A more sophisticated delivery network can yield “carbon value” via zero or low-emission generation, T&D efficiencies and innovative market strategies.
New DOE rules mandate more efficient (and expensive) equipment.
Subba Nishtala and Karen Gregg Price
When a federal court ordered the DOE to develop more than 20 energy-efficiency rules, the first rule DOE created was a commercial rule for energy transformer distribution equipment. The new DOE rule, published at the end of last year, is the first increased efficiency standard created since the beginning of the Bush administration in 2001.
Can nuclear heat allow for low-cost commercial reclamation?
Deposits of unconventional fuels—both crude oil and natural gas—occur in geological environments with very low energy. The exploitation of these low-energy deposits/reservoirs will require significant external energy to replace that lost or never provided by Mother Nature’s handiwork.
As green mandates tighten, utilities scramble to comply.
Mandatory renewable portfolio standards are becoming the norm. But after low-hanging green fruits are harvested, renewable power might get scarce. Many utilities will struggle to meet RPS requirements until lawmakers create stable federal policies and a national market for green credits.
The Big Build will test the industry’s access to Wall Street.
The era of easily available, affordable energy rapidly is ending and our society is realizing that our energy infrastructure is severely inadequate to supply the energy demands of the future. The major issue facing the sector today is how to fund and deliver this new climate-friendly infrastructure, which is currently estimated will cost almost $2 trillion between now and 2030.
Will power plants get caught in ethanol’s food fight?
The debate over food vs. fuel never has been louder. Using corn to make the biofuel ethanol is perhaps the best known point of argument. Everyone is asking: Should the United States require a certain percentage of U.S. corn crops be turned into fuel in the face of global food shortages and exorbitant food prices? And what are the effects of diverting food croplands into producing fuel?
Market forces are transforming the IOU business model.
As market forces transform the IOU business model, Apple’s iPhone provides a metaphor and possible example for the industry to follow. The iUtility will emerge as companies renegotiate the regulatory compact and reinterpret the traditional rate formula.
Scenarios depict possible nuclear waste futures.
Nuclear-waste management is a multi-billion dollar problem, and the future of nuclear power will depend on its resolution. Four scenarios depict possible outcomes and impacts on the electric power industry.