Death of a Turkey

DOE’s move to ‘restructure’ FutureGen clears the way for more rational R&D.

When President Bush announced the FutureGen initiative halfway through his first term, industry veterans instinctively understood its purpose. Nominally a public-private partnership to build a “zero-emissions” coal-fired power plant, FutureGen stood as a symbol for the administration’s climate-change strategy. It helped the government argue mandatory carbon constraints were unnecessary, because America will develop more green technology than any other country in the world.

Carbon Wargames

U.S. utilities gain strategic insights by playing out a carbon-constraint scenario.

Uncertainties over natural-gas prices, carbon regulation, and clean-technology alternatives are inhibiting investment in new power plants. An emissions “wargame” from Booz, Allen & Hamilton shows how companies might react to large, multidimensional changes in the generation landscape. The exercise raises strategic questions about competitive positions on the climate battlefront.

U.K. Carbon Lessons

Emissions regulations are reshaping the U.K. and Irish energy markets.

As U.S. policymakers consider how to tackle the challenge of greenhouse-gas constraints, the U.K.’s approach to the problem offers instructive examples.

The Power to Reduce CO2 Emissions: The Full Portfolio

What the U.S. electricity sector must do to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in coming decades.

The large-scale CO2 reductions envisioned to stabilize, and ultimately reverse, global atmospheric CO2 concentrations present major technical, economic, regulatory and policy challenges. Reconciling these challenges with continued growth in energy demand highlights the need for a diverse, economy-wide approach.

Nuclear vs. IGCC

Next-gen technologies race to dominate the big build.

New nuke plants will take at least eight years to complete, while the coal that powers new IGCC plants is no longer cheap. Regulatory and market obstacles confront both technologies, just as they emerge from the starting gate. Which type of plant will win the future?

Carbon Costs: The Coming Battle

Where are prices going, and where have they been?

The Supreme Court’s recent decision empowering the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide shifted momentum toward a mandatory program to cap greenhouse-gas emissions. Eventually, there will be huge implications for power generation.

A Climate Emergency?

Capacity shortages from global warming should be the real cause for alarm.

Suppose the experts are wrong about climate change. Suppose they’ve underestimated the impact of global warming. Of course, to longtime readers of Public Utilities Fortnightly, the idea that a warming climate might force adjustments in utility resource plans is nothing new.

Commission Watch

PJM would dictate grid expansion, even if not needed for reliability, and then push the cost of the upgrades on those who use them the most.

PJM would dictate grid expansion, even if not needed for reliability, and then push the cost of the upgrades on those who use them the most.

Chairman Pat Wood and his Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) may well have given up on attempts to impose a standard market design (SMD) on the electric utility industry, but that doesn't mean the nation's grid system operators won't try the same thing.

The Next Convergence: Energy, Telecommunications and Internal Infrastructure

s The technology is digital.

s The medium is cyberspace. The product is a strategic system for billing, collection and customer services (BCCS) that integrates knowledge and choice through an automated customer interface.

The impending obliteration of the business boundaries between the gas, electric and other energy industries will launch a series of convergent waves of change. Executives, regulators, legislators, investors and, naturally, consumers must ride this wave over the next 10 to 15 years.

The Search for Consumer Content in Energy Marketing and Retailing

The battle to control profit margin really boils down to a battle for the customer premises, where the serious money resides.The gas and electric industries in the United States control about $900 billion in assets (production, logistical, merchant). They employ these assets to serve about 150 million customers (counted separately for gas and electric), but they manage to offer only two rudimentary products (em molecules and electrons (em and at only two levels of service: firm (supposedly) and interruptible (obviously).