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.

Middle Mile Moxie

Xcel Energy proposes to create America’s first fully functional intelligent grid, with communications and automation systems linking the network from end to end, power plants to meters. Although Xcel still is deploying the system, it’s shown that the early payoff from smart-grid investments won’t necessarily come from automated metering, but from automation in the distribution network—the “middle mile.” As chief architect of the Smart Grid City project in Boulder, Colo., Ray Gogel served on the front lines in the industry’s technology revolution.

3Rs for Power And Demand

Dynamic monitoring and decision systems maximize energy resources.

The operations and planning rules for integrating variable resources aren’t the same across the electric power industry in the United States at present. Opinions are somewhat divided about what these should be, as well as the assessments of potential benefits and costs. In order to support sustainable deployment of variable resources at value, it’s critical to identify major sources of potential problems and to proactively design and implement a systematic framework for managing their unique characteristics as reliably and efficiently as possible.

Paying with Plastic

Customers demand real choices for bill payment.

In the world of utility bill payments, few issues have generated more controversy than the use of credit, debit and pre-paid cards. Generally, regulated utilities have been unable to build a compelling business case to offer no-fee card payments to customers, preferring instead to partner with third-party processors (TPPs) who happily charge convenience fees to card users.

O Pioneers!

A land rush in the burgeoning home energy management market.

The Prius Effect—a term that’s gained currency in sustainability circles—is shorthand for the strong link between information and behavior demonstrated by the popular Toyota hybrid. The car was among the first to provide a real-time fuel consumption gage on the dash; step hard on the gas, watch the MPG gage go down. Coast gently along and see the savings. Drivers with the gage become aware of—even obsessive about—the way their driving habits affect consumption, and by extension, cost.

Integrating New England Renewables

How to manage the green revolution.

Dramatic changes are coming to the electric industry, sparked by a surge of renewable energy and related transmission. Growth in demand-side resources, conservation and smart technologies will add integration dilemmas to an already complex power system.

Renewable Overload

Waxman-Markey RES creates land-use dilemmas.

The Waxman-Markey bill proposes a federal renewable electricity standard. This standard, combined with state mandates, raises the risk of forest land shortages and higher prices for food and feedstocks.

Letters to the Editor

(August 2009) When I hear the new buzz word term dynamic pricing I think of politicians who may be socialist or liberal, but who call themselves “progressive.” Now, what thoughtful person would not vote for a progressive. Do you want to vote for someone who isn’t progressive? That would make you some kind of Luddite. The same holds true for the people now running around the country calling for “dynamic pricing” i.e., charging $5/kWh for up to 100 hours per year, and calling any other form of pricing “dumb rates.”

Smart-Grid Strategy: Quantifying Benefits

Modeling the value of various technologies and applications.

As utilities announce new smart-grid programs, they need a strategic method for quantifying benefits. Analytical models generate baseline benefit estimates and reveal big-picture trends. Decision makers need the best resources available to mitigate risks in choosing a smart-grid strategy.

The Wind Watcher

The search for the ultimate wind forecasting model got a boost at the end of 2008 when DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory began collaborating with a Portuguese research institute, INESC Porto, to develop a new platform for making such predictions.