Frontlines & Op-Ed

Green with Envy

Efficiency products will proliferate, for better or worse.

Recently an acquaintance of mine, who shall remain nameless, gave a diamond engagement ring to his girlfriend. She joyfully accepted the ring. But soon her joy turned to disgust when she learned that her lovely “diamond” actually was a cubic zirconium. Last I heard, she’d broken off the engagement and was dating her ex-fiancé’s former boss.

Letters to the Editor

Commissioner Rick Morgan of the Public Service Commission for the District of Columbia based his article, “Rethinking ‘Dumb’ Rates”, on the faulty premise that there is a consensus, either in the regulatory community or electric industry, or both, trending toward the immediate adoption of smart meters and dynamic rates and, worse yet, that such change should be embraced now just ‘cause it is today’s pretty amazing new stuff.

Money to Burn

Smart-grid stimulus targets the wrong problem.

The $800 billion stimulus bill has spawned a feeding frenzy among would-be recipients of the money. Smart-grid technology companies, for example, are excited about the bill’s $4.5 billion in 50/50 matching grants to “modernize the electric grid.” However, not everybody is cheering.

Obama vs. Reality

Even blue-sky goals fall short.

Obama has set high expectations for his administration. But as the president acknowledged in his inaugural address, fulfilling those expectations won’t be easy. For the U.S. power and gas industry, the specific questions are whether Obama really means what he says about energy policy; whether his policy priorities are sufficient to accomplish the goals he’s set; and whether his “Yes we can!” strategy can survive in the real world, with all its practical constraints and party politics, after the “change” buzz subsides.

California Dreamin'

Left-coast lawmakers envision a greener America.

As the new U.S. government takes shape, at least one trend seems clear: California is taking over the country. Well, maybe not “taking over,” exactly. But leading.

Good News for Coal

Resolving the climate debate gives coal a path forward.

I met Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) in November. He was speaking to attendees at EEI’s Finance Conference in Phoenix, and after his speech many people remarked that they wished other members of Congress were even half as well versed about the utility industry’s issues as Boucher seems to be.

Green Bailout

Congress pours tax benefits into efficiency and renewables.

Of the many provisions in the bailout bill, few of them actually establish new federal policy. Instead, most just continue existing provisions that already were set to expire, and probably would have been enacted in some form—if not this session, then next session.

Letters to the Editor

(October 2008) The information in your Online ROE Database is very helpful and important for a state agency such as ours, which has very limited resources for the purchase of research information. May we have permission to cite and create exhibits from your online database of gas and electric authorized returns on equity and associated data?

A Time to Lead

The financial crisis calls on utilities to invest in America’s future.

True story: At the dinner table recently, my 11 year-old son—who’s running for 6th grade student council—bemoaned the arguments he’s having with other candidates. I asked what they’re arguing about, and he said “Everything.” “Oh really? What’s your position on the mortgage bailout.” “It sucks!” he blurted. I countered, “But if we don’t do it, the financial system will collapse.”

Letters to the Editor

(September 2008) In July 2008, two pronouncements on energy policy were made by well-known and respected public figures, T. Boone Pickens and Al Gore. While the T. Boone Pickens and Al Gore proposals are timely and merit further evaluation, at this time continued dependence on oil imports and only modest progress in replacing fossil fuel use for power generation have to be accommodated.