(September 2010) Capital spending and commodity prices are driving changes in financial performance. The 2010 Fortnightly 40 report shows growing success for companies with substantial unregulated assets. As the industry resumes its Big Build, regulatory relationships will determine the long-term strength of utility shareholder returns.
Beacon Power delivers flywheel electronics; PPL awards dry sorbent injection contract to United Conveyor.
Beyond-the-meter technologies challenge the utility monopoly.
Smart metering and beyond-the-meter technologies are challenging the utility monopoly model. Now, regulated utilities must re-think their customer relationships as a revitalized retail sector provides growth opportunities.
The entire utility-consumer relationship must be reengineered.
The business case for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) can’t be justified alone on operational savings to the utility. But critical assumptions involving process improvements and system efficiencies depend on customer involvement. This sequel to a September 2009 article examines customer engagement strategies and techniques.
Kiewit chooses Alstom equipment for Dominion and Northland Power plants; Abengoa Solar reaches 143 MW with thermal plant startup; S&C Electric to engineer Tessera Solar project; Canada and Hitachi cooperate on carbon sequestration; Black & Veatch to manage PSE&G smart-grid project; AEP selects OPower for customer engagement; SRP picks Elster for AMI rollout; Oncor installs millionth smart meter; plus contract and technology announcements from ABB, Arcadian Networks, Beacon Power, Catalyst Renewables, eMeter, Itron, Open Systems International, Siemens, SunEdison, Tesla Motors and
Smart meters open the door to advance billing.
Investor-owned utility executives have long understood the benefits of prepaid metering, but technical and regulatory roadblocks have prevented wide-scale implementation. Now, however, two IOUs—Arizona Public Service and DTE—are planning prepaid metering programs that could be offered to all customers. Smart metering technology might pave the way for prepaid to become a standard service.
The smart grid and its biomorphic destiny.
Smart grid technology is bringing inanimate objects to life. In connecting nodes and equipping the system with distributed intelligence, the network is developing toward an environment that becomes quasi-biological over time. Such an organic system might defy deterministic ideas of planning and control.
Real-world projects show tangible returns.
Much is riding on successful smart-grid deployments. Experiences at several utilities demonstrate the costs and benefits of today’s automation technologies.
Shaping long-term smart-grid strategy.
Making the business case for the smart grid is an important utility goal. It provides the justification for making or deferring required investments. Utilities might find it necessary to engage in a cycle of continuous strategic planning.
Capacity planning for the smart grid.
The one-day-in-10-years criterion for capacity planning is coming under scrutiny. Making the most of the smart grid and demand management requires a less conservative approach. Markets and prices rather than administrative rules will ensure resource adequacy in a more efficient way.