Fortnightly Magazine - June 2009
Dominion named Paul E. Ruppert as senior v.p.-Dominion Transmission. ITC Holdings Corp. appointed Edward M. Rahill to president of ITC Grid Development. Ameren Corp. promoted Karen Foss to senior v.p., communications and brand management, from v.p., public relations at Missouri subsidiary, AmerenUE.
NV Energy appointed Punam Mathur as v.p. of human resources.
Utilities adapt to a shifting landscape.
The U.S. utility landscape is more dynamic and uncertain than it’s been since Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse waged their infamous war over alternating current—and the results might be just as fundamental to the industry’s future.
Utilities hurry up and wait to apply for grant money.
The American Recovery and Restructuring Act (ARRA, or the Recovery Act), signed into law in February, provides $4.5 billion in stimulus funding for programs aimed at “electricity delivery and energy reliability activities to modernize the electric grid.” This funding commitment, and swirl of industry and lawmaker activities since, has helped lift the smart-grid agenda out of the shadows of utility engineering departments and into the public’s broader view.
Bringing flexibility and efficiency to energy RFPs.
With the introduction of retail competition in the electricity industry, regulatory authorities in many jurisdictions are now overseeing the purchase of electricity at wholesale by electric utilities for customers that do not otherwise obtain supply from independent retailers. There are two primary ways in which, under the supervision of regulatory authorities, electric utilities purchase electricity for these non-shopping customers: through simultaneous descending clock auctions or through fairly common sealed-bid auctions, commonly known as Requests for Proposals.
How solar PV could redraw the map for green energy and grid investment.
When Pacific Gas & Electric broke the news six weeks ago that it had signed a deal with Solaren Corp. to buy 200 MW of solar energy from satellites launched into geosynchronous orbit, the idea seemed almost laughable. Solaren’s plan is to catch unobstructed sunlight falling on arrays of photovoltaic solar panels deployed in the crystalline void of outer space, and then to convert the generated electricity into radio-frequency energy for transmission to Solaren’s ground-based receiving station outside Fresno. Welcome to the new renewable reality.
Policy and technology changes are re-shaping the utility business model.
A once-in-a-lifetime confluence of forces is re-shaping the business models of America’s electric utilities. Rising costs, combined with technological advancements and shifts in regulatory policy, are putting unprecedented pressure on companies that depend on market conditions. Those that adapt to the new realities will be better positioned for success in the future.
Carbon costs will reshape the generation fleet and affect retail rates.
American utility consumers face a compelling generational challenge: satisfy the need for a reliable power supply, at a reasonable price, while also reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and building a sustainable energy industry. How the government structures green-energy mandates will determine how long existing power plants remain viable.
State attorneys general target energy policy issues.
As energy issues take center stage in the policy debate, state attorneys general increasingly are using their political influence and legal authority to affect a wide range of areas—from greenhouse-gas emissions to siting and development of infrastructure projects. Working constructively with state AGs can help utilities avoid becoming targets of investigation and litigation.
Metering potential and limitations for smart-grid design.
How far can smart metering take us toward creating a smart grid? While meters don’t support the highest-level smart-grid functions, they can provide significant capability when the metering system is properly designed to support the evolution to a smart grid. New technologies create opportunities to rethink traditional metering approaches and work toward powerful smart-grid capabilities.