Clear Skies for Gas

Unconventional sources brighten the U.S. supply outlook.

The future of natural gas supplies in the United States looks promising due to rising projections of recoverable resources, including unconventional production. A strong supply outlook bodes well for using natural gas as a low-emission transportation fuel.

Green Price Stability

New approaches account for the economic benefits of renewables.

Many green power customers benefit from long-term fixed prices. The most effective programs recognize the value of this price hedge—and fairly exempt customers from fuel cost adders in utility rates.

A Multi-Pollutant Strategy

An integrated approach could prove more effective for controlling emissions.

Despite political challenges, the EPA and Congress have made strides toward a more coherent and integrated approach to regulating air emissions. The time is right to reach consensus on a multi-pollutant strategy.

Water Worries

With new plants pending, cooling requires serious thought.

Cooling water shortages might force nuclear project developers to get creative.

2008 ROE Survey - Rates, Risks & Regulators

Economic uncertainties raise doubts about utility returns.

(November 2008) Economic uncertainties are raising doubts over utility returns. Will regulators feel the need to consider broader economic effects when engaging in ratemaking? While reporting on this year’s rate cases, the author provides insight on what to expect as stock prices fall.

Memo to the President-Elect (Part 1)

A clear and present need for nuclear energy expansion.

The new administration might be our last, best hope for recapturing America’s technological and economic superiority. The time has come to institute an “Apollo Project” level of effort to convert to a carbon-free energy infrastructure while tossing aside the business-as-usual model. The future lies in nuclear power.

Transmission is Bubbling

A billion-dollar ‘gold rush’ could send grid rates through the roof.

Money may be difficult to come by for Wall Street financiers in these dark days, but apparently not for electric transmission construction—at least so far. A rash of recent orders from FERC shows that generous financial incentives remain available to companies seeking to expand the nation’s grid capacity.

Defensive Invention

When the U.S. Patent Office published patent application number 11/626,810 in July 2008, few people noticed—at first. Soon, however, the metering-technology community was abuzz, mostly with outrage. If the Patent Office grants the patent and all its claims, other utilities would be legally forbidden from using any of the methods described, without first obtaining a license from the patent holders.

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.”

Nuking the Tar Sands

Can nuclear heat allow for low-cost commercial reclamation?

Deposits of unconventional fuels—both crude oil and natural gas—occur in geological environments with very low energy. The exploitation of these low-energy deposits/reservoirs will require significant external energy to replace that lost or never provided by Mother Nature’s handiwork.