Complex billing is one way to minimize the size and frequency of blackouts.
The search continues for the smoking gun responsible for the Northeast blackout last August. Absent a clearly defined single cause, analysts turn to the usual suspects: Is the grid large enough? Does it require additional investment? Given that the grid was never designed to handle a competitive industry, is it reasonable to require that it now do so?
For Public Utilities Fortnightly's 75th Anniversary CEO issue, the magazine looked to the horizon and asked these new captains about the planned course for their companies, and for an entire industry.
Greater reliance on gas-fired power implies serious economic, technological, and national security risks.
Over the past two decades, the United States has, by default, come to rely on an "In Gas We Trust" energy policy. Natural gas increasingly has been seen as the preferred fuel for all applications, nowhere more than in the electric generation sector. However, the greatly increased use of natural gas forecast for the electricity sector may not be economically or technically feasible, and it does not represent optimal or desired energy policy.
Electricity demand in parts of Europe is on the rise.
The European Union (EU), unlike the United States, enters 2004 with neither a constitution nor a European regulatory agency to oversee the EU's "single market" goals in energy. The EU, however, faces many cross-border issues affecting trade in electricity and natural gas, just as the United States does. While the member countries of the EU have become more energy efficient, new investment in all segments of electric infrastructure still is needed.
The grid does not need a Marshall Plan for new investment.
We don't know what caused the Aug. 14 blackout, but somehow we know that our transmission system needs $50 billion to $100 billion in investment and upgrades. And utilities need higher returns to raise that kind of money. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons.
The reality is that we aren't short $50 billion or $100 billion in our transmission system. The study said to support that proposition just doesn't do the job.
Has the Aug. 14 blackout finally made it more than a pipe dream?
Former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson ticked off a whole lot of people in the industry when he pronounced the United States a superpower with "a Third World electricity grid."
Yet while debate continues about the causes of the Northeast blackout, there's no arguing that the majority of transmission and distribution in this country is controlled via mechanical technology largely developed in the 1950s.
Two years after 9/11, the industry remains vulnerable.
Two years ago the utility industry, like everyone else in America, was blindsided by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In the aftermath, the rush to secure the grid was on, and the caps on security spending came off-at least for a little while.
Two years later, where are we? Is the grid better protected from attack?
It is, but not by much, according to the experts Fortnightly consulted.
The pros and cons of outsourcing utilities' IT functions.
Utility companies have a lot to think about these days. Whether or not to outsource information technologies (IT) is part of the equation being calculated in the present economy. While some managers feel anxiety at turning over important company functions to outsiders, others see it as an opportunity to free up IT staff for other work. And keeping up with ever-changing technology is a daunting task.
Flexibility is key as FERC moves toward a final rule.
Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its vision last July to standardize the rules governing U.S. bulk power markets, the nation's reaction to this standard market design (SMD) could safely be called swift and fervent.
FERC's attempt to standardize markets have some state regulators up in arms.
The fight over standard market design (SMD) looms large as regulators face the coming year. Passions are heightened on the subject-and everyone has an opinion.
In these pages, takes SMD and other questions right to the top policymakers in six states-Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Texas-for a snapshot of what the thinking is on hot topics. And of course we included the man of the hour, FERC's chairman Pat Wood.