What's causing price volatility, and will it last?
Coal markets have changed dramatically in the last year, but uncertainty lingers over how permanent the changes will be. After relative stability in the 1990s, coal markets, like other energy commodities, have become increasingly volatile, although high prices should not be confused with increased volatility.
Fortnightly Magazine - September 2004
A Year After the Blackout:
Grid reliability is still at risk unless the industry quickly takes action.
IOUs, RTOs duke it out over standardization.
Have regional transmission operators (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs) asked for excessive levels of credit from customers, to the extent that the burdensome requirements foreclose full market participation by competitive entities? The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) must face that difficult question as it investigates whether to institute a rulemaking on credit-related issues for service provided by ISOs, RTOs, and transmission providers.
Business & Money
After FERC's Market Power Ruling:
Will financiers dominate the market?
The recent approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of its "interim" market power screen and policies on investor-owned utilities (IOU) affiliate transactions is changing the market dynamics for buying and selling generation assets. Yet, while the market test has drawn plenty of comments and complaints, the long-term effects are still uncertain.
Energy Storage Systems
How to reduce the cycling costs of conventional generation.
Energy Storage Systems (ESS) can provide significant benefits associated with reduced damage to fossil-fuel power plants if the ESS is used in such as way that it reduces start-ups or load-following/cycling. Though those benefits may not be well known, understood, or documented, they are real and ascertainable.
Pipeline and LNG terminal developments may arrive too late to prevent a natural gas disaster.
For exactly two months, MidAmerican Energy sponsored a $6.3 billion project to bring stranded natural gas from Alaska's North Slope to an adjoining pipeline in Canada. But when Alaska's Department of Revenue rejected MidAmerican's proposal for an exclusive partnership to develop the pipeline, the company pulled out.
The conclusions made by the NPC gas study raise more questions than they answer.
In late September of 2003, the National Petroleum Council (NPC) issued a comprehensive study on the future of the U.S. natural gas industry.1
Reactive power is the key to an efficient and reliable grid.
Deregulation, competition, and the back-to-basics utility strategy have created tremendous pressures for utilities to cut operating costs while improving customer service. In this environment, companies are being challenged to build the utility of the future-a lean provider of power generation, transmission, and distribution run tightly and efficiently, creating a low-cost, high-performance business.
Business Process Outsourcing
The utility HR department is the new battleground.
Today information technology (IT) outsourcing contracts are being signed on an almost weekly basis and are rapidly extending into business process outsourcing (BPO) deals covering a whole range of areas-customer care, human resources (HR), finance and accounting, and procurement, to name a few.