Fortnightly Magazine - May 2007

The Change in Profit Climate

How will carbon-emissions policies affect the generation fleet?

Any climate policy is almost certain to target the electric-power industry, which is responsible for about 38 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. Said policy especially would affect coal-fired power plants, which contribute about 82 percent of the electric power CO2 total. How would various policy options change the economic value of current and proposed generation assets?

Mitigating "Mandated" Rate Hikes

How to develop balanced revenue-backed financing to manage the impacts of governmental mandates.

Severe upward pressure on electric rates after a decade of stability has regulators, legislators, utility executives, consumer advocates, and myriad other stakeholders searching for solutions. Revenue-backed financing can mitigate many of these mandate-driven rate increases significantly. These programs must, however, be designed to eliminate the inefficiencies and inequities that can be associated with revenue set-aside programs.

Pulling An Inside Job

PJM loses luster in a squabble over market monitoring.

The bottom fell out in the hearing room at FERC on April 5 when witness Joseph Bowring let it slip that, yes, he might well prefer more independence from his employer in his role as chief of the market monitoring unit at the PJM Interconnection.

Power-Plant Development: Raising the Stakes

Duke Energy’s Jim Turner and other utility executives weigh the odds on billion-dollar bets.

The heavy investment required for new generation technologies clearly is a global phenomenon, but global-resource competition to build power plants is making power-plant development more expensive—and may even limit the number that any one utility in any one country can develop.

Spending Capital as if It Mattered

Infrastructure challenges are redefining utility capital-planning methods.

The capital pressures squeezing utilities today need to be offset by stronger alignment among the four critical dimensions of capital planning: strategic, regulatory, financial, and managerial.

Building a Utility Roll-up Machine

How private-equity firms may consolidate the utilities industry.

Financial acquirers of utilities face a higher hurdle than traditional acquirers because their reputation for seeking out-sized returns on highly leveraged, short-term investments doesn’t play well. Shaking off that reputation will lead to more effective consolidation.

CIS: Middleware Mashup: Smart Grid and the Back Office

Utilities are learning how smart-grid data will interface with CIS and other back-office systems. Meters and middleware are rapidly evolving in this brave new world.

The manager of technology services for Phoenix-based Salt River Project (SRP) is tasked with implementing a revolutionary process for one of the most progressive public power utilities in the country. Specifically, he is working to integrate data from SRP’s smart meters (140,000 and counting) into the utility’s back-office processes—particularly customer service and billing.

Workforce Automation: Where Rubber Meets Road

The purpose of utility-system automation, in a nutshell, is to bring utility service into the 21st century. These advancements will help improve customer service by allowing utilities to respond sooner to situations that cause outages—but only if workforce processes make use of the intelligence these new systems provide.

CIP Compliance: Reducing Your Risk

How utilities can navigate critical infrastructure protection requirements.

Operations personnel at many energy companies feel the pressure of achieving compliance with the NERC CIP standards. Some worry that they are not aware of the problems and security incidents that have occurred within their critical infrastructures. Some know that they do not have the procedures in place to maintain CIP compliance.