Frontlines & Op-Ed

Getting Engaged

How to avoid a Texas-style backlash.

Is customer engagement more about damage control, or helping customers understand their options?

V2G Shuffle

Smart charging is just the start of the electric vehicle revolution.

Electric vehicles (EV) now rolling off automakers’ production lines are expensive and limited in range, but they mark a technological tipping point. By tapping into the smart grid, EVs promise to free transportation fuel from the physical medium—raising its practical value while simultaneously diminishing its cost.

Cap and Innovate

An alternative approach to climate regulation.

Low carbon prices might not produce sufficient incentives for firms to innovate and reduce emissions in the long run. But relatively high carbon prices can be politically unacceptable and invite consumer backlash. Where’s the right balance? A PUC chairman offers an alternative approach to managing GHG emissions.

Solar Eclipse

Wind faces a nano-scale threat.

For decades now, wind turbines have been generating electricity more cheaply than most other (non-hydro) renewable energy technologies. In particular, wind has maintained a comfortable lead over solar energy in the price-per-kWh race. That’s destined to change.

Fill 'er Up

Smart Grid as Quick-E Mart

During interviews for this month’s cover story, “Customer Service: 2020,” leaders in the world of back-office information technology (IT) spoke with Fortnightly about customer service and the smart grid. They came from companies as diverse as Oracle and Telus, HP and Convergys, Vertex and SAP. But whatever the company, whatever the discussion, almost every leader came around eventually to focus on a single agent of change—the rise of electric vehicles.

Letters to the Editor

(March 2010) New Day for Prudence: I am sending this letter at the request of Robert Gruber, who is the executive director of the Public Staff-North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), which is the state agency charged with representing the public in matters before the NCUC. In the article, “New Day for Prudence,” the group that filed the quoted testimony is not “the Office of Public Counsel.” It consists of a number of non-profits and associations that banded together and called themselves the Public Advocacy Groups for the purpose of intervening before the NCUC. We’re also concerned because the article’s description of the NCUC’s ruling is erroneous.

The Green Police

Technology advances despite a political conflict.

Opinion polls show that Americans are growing tired of eco-nannyism. This isn’t a new trend, but on February 7 it went prime-time, during the biggest TV event of the year: Superbowl XLIV.

OMG Opportunity?

Electrifying the Android generation.

Those who don’t embrace new technologies will get left behind when the world changes around them. This is true across generations and across industries. At the same time, however, the telecom revolution offers a cautionary lesson about what motivates consumers and how it translates into business opportunities.

Green Quagmire

The black art of pricing social costs.

At the Power-Gen International trade show in December, Questar Chairman & CEO Keith Rattie delivered a firebrand speech opposing the prospect of CO2 cap-and-trade legislation. To summarize, he said the Waxman-Markey climate bill is an “asinine” piece of legislation—which it is, as anyone who reads it quickly discovers. But more broadly, he said concerns about greenhouse gases (GHG) are based on incomplete science and politically motivated alarmism.

Subsidy Addiction

Government incentives are smothering free enterprise.

When Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced legislation in November 2009 aimed at doubling America’s nuclear power capacity within 20 years, he compared the clean-energy challenge to fighting a war. “If we were going to war, we wouldn’t mothball our nuclear navy and start subsidizing sailboats,” he told attendees at the American Nuclear Society’s winter meeting. “If addressing climate change and creating low-cost, reliable energy are national imperatives, we shouldn’t stop building nuclear plants and start subsidizing windmills.”