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.

Letters to the Editor

Before the hearings started, I felt the number of critical cyber assets for a medium size utility would be on the order of several thousand, not 20 as some major utilities are identifying under the CIP standards. This should be a red flag for the industry.

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.

The Change in Profit Climate

How will carbon-emissions policies affect the generation fleet?

Any climate policy is almost certain to target the electric-power industry, which is responsible for about 38 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. Said policy especially would affect coal-fired power plants, which contribute about 82 percent of the electric power CO2 total. How would various policy options change the economic value of current and proposed generation assets?

CIOs Under Pressure

IT officers are getting more efficient, but guess what keeps them up at night?

Ever-present security concerns are keeping utility chief information officers up at night. With their IT budgets under constraints in a back-to-basics era, four CIOs speak out about their concerns over funding, staffing, and the future.

Smart Grid, Smart Utility

The intelligent-grid vision is becoming clearer as utilities take incremental steps toward a brighter future.

Building the intelligent grid will require less technical innovation than it does strategic innovation—a characteristic not typically ascribed to U.S. regulated utilities. But the utility culture is changing—by necessity, if not by choice.

Future Imperfect: Managing Strategic Risk In an Age of Uncertainty

Part 1 of a 2-part article explores new technologies most likely to influence competitive success.

When fighter pilots list the advantages of one combat aircraft over another, they do not speak primarily of speed. Rather, they refer to the ability of one aircraft to “turn inside” another, to negate other aspects of performance with a superior turning radius. For the utility industry, fundamental changes in technology, markets, or regulatory requirements can “turn inside” the ability of companies to respond, as long-lived investments and choice of fuels lock them into their strategic choices for decades. This article proposes ways for utility leaders to understand strategic risk better and manage it more effectively.

In the Mainstream: Wind Turbines Take Off

New technologies are helping windpower mature as a viable power supply choice for utilities.

Few people understand how to ride shifting winds better than Jim Dehlsen does. Dehlsen founded Zond Energy Systems 25 years ago, and steered the company through a series of major changes and challenges—the oil-price collapse of the 1980s; ambivalent energy policies, with on-again, off-again production tax credits; and the sale of controlling interests in Zond to Enron in the late 1990s. Should it come as any surprise, then, that Dehlsen still is bullish on windpower’s prospects?