Fortnightly Magazine - May 2007

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.

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