Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe has made it his mission to block environmental regulations, especially greenhouse gas constraints. His most recent attack targets John Bryson, former Edison International CEO and Pres. Barack Obama’s nominee for Commerce Secretary. But rather than protecting economic interests, as Inhofe purportedly aims to do, his actions have added to the ongoing policy chaos that frustrates clean coal development.
How a move to bring power markets to the Great Plains has uncovered a crisis in grid planning.
Bruce W. Radford
They call the United States the “Saudi Arabia of Wind.” That’s due in large part to the huge potential of the Great Plains. But there’s a hole in the metaphor. Wind power development in some parts of the prairie is falling short of expectations.
Utilities place billion-dollar bets on infrastructure, but the deck may be stacked against them.
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
Something seems deeply disturbing about the utility industry these days. An almost palpable tension rises whenever the utility CEO is asked how he will build enough power plants to meet the skyrocketing demand for power. Some consultants predict that sometime after this decade the time will come when utilities won’t be able to build enough to meet demand, no matter what they try.
Consider that Aquila Energy, the marketing arm of UtiliCorp United, has announced a new financial derivative, known as GuaranteedForecast,sm to hedge the weather against forecasts by the National Weather Service. The new product will pay holders a guaranteed amount if the mercury strays, and Aquila touts its thermometer hedge for any of 170 U.S. cities (em be it Spokane, El Paso, Chicago or New York. Why talk about the weather when you can invest in it, in true '90s fashion?
For this heating season, however, it may be too late.
Differences of opinion make for good horse races and bad jokes about economists, and those who are studying the recent wave of electric utility merger announcements have not let us down. Some of these economists optimistically believe that the mergers act as forces for competition, since they will combine corporate assets and staffs to bolster operating efficiency and market acumen at the merged companies. Other economists, who see transmission as the root of monopoly power, are more pessimistic.
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