Intelligent networks support better decision making.
Sophocles once said, “Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.” Apparently Sophocles did not work in the utility industry. Utilities must make quick decisions every day to maintain a safe and reliable grid. As they have learned, the key to a quick and safe decision is making a well-informed decision. Yet utilities face challenges in providing enough information for their employees and automated systems to make these types of decisions.
Understanding the value of pumped storage.
Pumped-storage technology allows utilities to defer the time value of energy, but project developers have struggled to make their economics work. Increased demand for ancillary services and standby capacity might make pumped storage more viable.
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.
(Octover 2008) Xcel Energy named David Sparby president and CEO of Northern States Power Minnesota. Entergy Corp. appointed Terence Burke general counsel and chief legal officer for EquaGen, the joint venture operating company to be owned 50 percent by Entergy and 50 percent by Enexus Energy. Steven Agresta was named executive vice president, general counsel and chief legal officer for Enexus Energy. NorthWestern Energy appointed Robert C. Rowe as president and CEO. And others...
(September 2008) ISO New England selected Vamsi Chadalavada as senior vice president and COO. PG&E Corp. announced that Peter A. Darbee, chairman, CEO and president, will assume added duties of CEO and president of subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Ontario Power Authority appointed Colin Andersen CEO. And others...
Vendors battle it out while utilities await common communications protocols.
Uncertainties about smart metering goals are hindering efforts to standardize communications protocols and feature sets. While vendors battle over standards, utilities and policy makers are moving forward anyway—despite the potential for setbacks.
The PJM complaint and the rising cost of electric reliability.
Who says ratepayers must accept the traditional measure of electric reliability—a single one-hour outage every ten years? If shown the bill ahead of time, might they decide otherwise; that such luxury is no longer affordable? Consumers are making similar decisions about gasoline and mortgages. Why not electricity?
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.
(August 2008) Luminant (the former TXU power generation unit) announced that Texas Secretary of State Phil Wilson joined the company as senior vice president of public affairs. NiSource named Stephen P. Smith CFO. AEP named Richard E. Munczinski senior vice president, shared services. And more...
Distributed solar modules are gaining ground on concentrated solar thermal plants.
Jonathan Lesser and Nicolas Puga
Photovoltaic technologies are beginning to appear more attractive than concentrated solar thermal plants. PV’s competitiveness is improving from technical and operational advancements, as well as significant commitments made by such utilities as Southern California Edison. In the long run, distributed central PV plants likely will gain a strong market position.