Fortnightly Magazine - August 2016

Future Shocked

New uses for electricity doubtless on the horizon albeit unpredictable

One vision of future power: By 2040, most households had at least one Powered Immersion room, some two or three.

Energy People: Jim Rogers

We talked with Jim Rogers, former CEO of Duke Energy.

Duke is now made up of five companies that existed in 1992. There are three difficult tasks in doing a successful combination. One is to negotiate it. The second, maybe the most difficult task, is actually getting the approval at both the state and federal levels. And lastly, the really hard work of combining the companies. It’s getting the cost savings as well as the revenue enhancements associated with the transaction. It is keeping the most talented people.

Energy People: Stan Garnett

We talked with Stan Garnett, former senior exec of two utilities, the day after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

The Brexit vote neatly frames a rather historic episode in the utility industry worldwide.

Electricity Market Reform in Japan

Bumpy Road Ahead

This is the first in a series of three articles related to power market reform in Japan and its implications both for Japan and globally.

Unsung Role of Fossil Fuels in the Miracle of U.S. Growth

Past, Present, and Future, Part I

Robert Gordon’s seminal book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, has a pessimistic message with profound economic, social, and political implications. But nowhere in Gordon’s 762-page book does he give credit to fossil fuels for the economic miracle of the past two centuries. In this article, I focus on the critical historical role that fossil fuels played in creating the technological and economic miracles that Gordon articulates so well.

Preparing for the Inevitable

New Approach to Recovery from Catastrophic Losses of Grid Facilities

How to adequately prepare for recovery from catastrophic losses: Doing nothing may minimize cost in the short run, but it leaves electricity customers exposed to the risk of extended outages. At the other extreme, having each utility purchase its own dedicated inventory of critical equipment would be duplicative and prohibitively expensive for utility customers. A shared inventory model offers a sensible middle-ground approach.

Good Ratemaking is Hard to Do

Especially in today’s politically charged environment

Trying to use ratemaking to address an increasing number of social issues intensifies the difficulty for regulators to reach a balanced outcome. Net metering stands out as economically inefficient, unfair and a regressive cross-subsidy, essentially an implicit tax on non-solar customers.

The Middle Way

A Narrative Addressing the Greatest Challenge of Our Time

The electricity sector is currently stuck in a false zero sum mentality between providers, technology companies, and policymakers. In this first article of a series, we explore an alternative narrative based on three core operating principles.

The Mobiles are FAST

Including mobile substations in Strategic Transformer Reserve Program

Both spare large power transformers, and emergency mobile substations, have critical roles in the U.S. Department of Energy's Strategic Transformer Reserve Program, STRP. An emergency mobile substation can literally roll onto the site on the bed of a truck, run connecting wires to the power lines, and bypass all of the damaged substation equipment, allowing electricity to flow again within hours.