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?
(July 2012) Southern Company announced changes in the company’s management team. Great Plains Energy and Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) appointed Scott Heidtbrink as executive v.p. and COO of KCP&L and greater Missouri operations. NV Energy announced two senior leadership appointments. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) appointed Jesus Soto Jr. as senior v.p. of gas transmission, operations, engineering, and pipeline integrity. And others...
Doing the right thing can drive utility stock performance.
Richard Rudden and Kyle Rudden
Utilities get little credit for their efforts to strengthen the sustainability of their businesses. But these efforts have paid dividends in stock performance, capital costs, regulatory relationships, and brand value. Capturing the greatest value for shareholders will require utilities to become better understood as socially responsible enterprises.
Making room on the local grid for small-scale PV.
For the first time, perhaps, the electric utility industry may need to keep track not only of peak load, but also of minimum load, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reviews a proposal by the Solar Energy Industries Association to employ a new definition of minimum load under a new, relaxed threshold test that would govern eligibility for fast-tracking of applications by generation developers to interconnect new, small-scale solar energy projects to the local utility distribution grid.
Planning ahead in a low-cost gas market.
Julie Ryan and Julie Lieberman
IIt’s ironic that in today’s market, as the cost of hedging against commodity price increases has declined, support for utility hedging programs has sunk to a historic low. The ideal time to hedge is when prices are low and markets are relatively calm, because that’s when hedging costs and risks are the lowest. Conversely, waiting until prices rise and markets become volatile will expose customers to higher costs. Convincing regulators to approve hedging programs now will require a collaborative approach to educating and enlisting support from stakeholders.
(August 2011) Shaw Group completes 500 MW combined cycle plant; Pattern Energy begins building Spring Valley wind farm; AEP, Duke and TVA team up on interstate transmission line; AEP and MidAmerican contract for Texas transmission projects; Alliant contracts Open Systems International for volt-VAR control system; Alstom buys into AWS Ocean Energy; Siemens acquires shares in PV manufacturer Semprius; Lockheed Martin introduces cyber security system; plus contracts and announcements involving Elster, Itron, Suzlon, Solon, Sensus, Westinghouse Electric, Morgan Lewis and others.
Itron deploys meter modules throughout Black Hills territory; Siemens to supply gas turbine packages to Mississippi Power; Cisco acquires Arch Rock for IP-based wireless smart metering applications; eMeter closes $12.5 million private-equity round; Enspiria helps NV Energy secure approvals for smart grid plan; American Superconductor invests in wind-turbine blade manufacturer; DOE selects 22 carbon-capture and storage projects for R&D funding; Petra Solar wins Sandia matching grant; plus announcements from Johnson Controls, Tantalus, Cooper Power, ComEd, UISOL, Convergys, SOLON and more
(April 2010) MidAmerican Energy Holdings announced the appointment of Michael Dunn as president of PacifiCorp Energy. NiSource Inc. announced that Jimmy D. Staton, executive v.p. and group CEO of NiSource’s gas distribution business, also will assume the added responsibility of leading the NiSource Indiana utilities, including Northern Indiana Public Service. Vectren chose Carl L. Chapman to serve as CEO. And others.
Transforming DR and smart-grid policies into reality.
Regulatory policies are evolving to make demand response and smart-grid planning a reality across the country. Cooperation between federal and state lawmakers will allow local flexibility within a uniform national framework.
(October 2009) The New York Independent System Operator named Thomas J. Rumsey as v.p. of external affairs. NV Energy promoted Robert Stewart to senior v.p. of customer relations. Calpine Corp. appointed Todd Thornton as treasurer and he now holds the title of v.p.-finance & treasurer. The California ISO appointed Keith Casey, Ph.D., as v.p. market and infrastructure development. And others...