April 2012

Edison Under the Hood

Can utilities put EV batteries in the rate base?

Thomas Edison once hoped to make a fortune in the auto business—selling electric cars. Of course it never happened; he and Henry Ford tried and failed to bring a low-cost electric car to market. They scuttled the project after investing $1.5 million toward the effort—more than $32 million in today’s dollars. Edison’s nickel-iron batteries just couldn't match the performance of Ford’s petrol-powered bang-bang.

People (April 2012)

Anne R. Pramaggiore became president and CEO of ComEd, following the retirement of Frank M. Clark, chairman and CEO since 2005. Pramaggiore joined ComEd in 1998 and most recently held the position of president and COO. In addition, ComEd named Tracie Morris v.p. of human resources. Morris previously served as v.p. of human resources for DeVry Inc.

Vendor Neutral

(April 2012) MidAmerican Energy awarded a contract to Siemens Energy to supply wind turbines for its 407-MW project expansion. American Electric Power began operating the 580-MW Dresden natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant. Duke Energy and ChinaHuaneng Group signed a three-year agreement expanding their research cooperation to include coal and carbon capture and sequestration technologies. And others...

Nuclear Faceoff

Indian Point and the battle for the nation’s energy future.

State lawmakers are trying to block relicensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City, but the owner hopes to keep the plant generating low-cost electricity. The battle over Indian Point raises new legal issues—and represents a microcosm of the struggle for America’s nuclear future.

Green Dealing

Renewable M&A lives on despite death of Treasury cash grants.

The U.S. Treasury cash grants for new renewable power projects expired at the end of 2011. These incentives, which were implemented under Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, helped to support continued capacity additions throughout the recession. The impending expiration of these grants caused a wave of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity during 2011 as developers and financiers rushed to get deals done and to begin construction in order to meet the Section 1603, 5-percent safe harbor threshold by the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline.

Strategic Segmentation

Understanding consumers’ likelihood of engaging in smart energy behaviors.

Different customers have different wants and needs, and customer segmentation strategies can help utilities understand those differences. But what’s the best way to define customer classes? And what strategies will be most successful in reaching those customers and serving them?

Getting Hitched

Marrying customer engagement and profits.

New channels for communicating with customers not only allow utilities to provide better service; they also create opportunities for utilities to reduce expenses and generate revenue. An integrated strategy that focuses on customers can lead to new value for utilities.

Planning a Fossil Teardown

Decommissioning and remediation of coal- and oil-fired plants.

As new EPA regulations drive companies to decommission older power plants, utilities face issues involving plant retirement and demolition. Some sites can host new power plants, but many can be better used for other commercial purposes. Thoughtful planning and decommissioning strategies can bring the greatest value from underutilized assets.

Keeping Your Kilowatts Private

A survey of state policies on release of customer data.

The advent of smart grid technology has raised new and challenging issues concerning data privacy. Of course, data privacy isn’t a new concern for the energy industry, as utilities have always collected customer data, some of which is common to any business, such as contact and credit information, and some of which is unique to the energy industry, such as usage and demand data.