Engineers and constructors adapt to serve an industry in transition.
From gas pipelines to PV arrays, the nation’s contractors are seeing growth in utility infrastructure. Fortnightly talks with executives at engineering and construction firms to learn what kinds of projects are moving forward, where they’re located, and what lies over the horizon.
Free markets are not a fad.
By Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Half-hearted deregulation hobbles the forces of supply and demand before they can get out of the gate.
The rationale for microgrids.
Edward N. Krapels and Clarke Bruno
Despite an array of challenges, microgrids are becoming a force in the market. Innovative projects bring greater efficiency and resilience.
Independent microgrids are coming. Will franchised utilities fight them or foster them?
Sara C. Bronin and Paul R. McCary
Despite offering a range of benefits, microgrids are proving to be controversial—especially when non-utility owned microgrids seek to serve multiple customers. The biggest battles are taking place in the realm of public policy. But utilities that pursue collaboration rather than confrontation are finding interesting opportunities for profitable investment.
Distribution utilities could become an important source of renewable funding.
Distribution utilities are well positioned to provide tax equity for renewable projects, but some state laws prevent it. Tapping the potential will require progressive leadership by utility executives and regulators.
A new watchword for the industry and its regulators.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
If the concept of resilience—including cyber and physical security—had been baked into the industry’s culture from the beginning, the energy grid might look a lot different from what it does today.
Technology is changing the game. Is your utility ready?
Although today microgrids serve a tiny fraction of the market, that share will grow as costs fall. Utilities can benefit if they plan ahead.
Refining the business case for advanced distribution investments.
As utilities plan their capital budgets for the next few years, investments in advanced distribution systems face an uncertain future. Customers question the value—and propriety—of some programs, while long-term strategic goals depend on seamless integration. What will be the path forward for smart grid technology?
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.
(April 2012) MidAmerican Energy awarded a contract to Siemens Energy to supply wind turbines for its 407-MW project expansion. American Electric Power began operating the 580-MW Dresden natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant. Duke Energy and ChinaHuaneng Group signed a three-year agreement expanding their research cooperation to include coal and carbon capture and sequestration technologies. And others...