Part 3: When Competition Turns to War
Are merchant power assets overpriced?
By some measures, merchant power assets look like a bargain, selling for well below their replacement cost. But whether low prices signal a buying opportunity or a value trap depends on the outlook for electricity demand growth—not just in the long term, but also in the fairly immediate future.
Fukushima shockwaves hit America’s nuclear renaissance.
In the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, questions are arising about the safety and survivability of reactors located in geologically active areas. Major changes might be required, and as a result the U.S. nuclear industry might face an existential challenge on the order of the Three Mile Island accident.
Do regulatory and economic trends favor industry mergers?
Now that some new major transactions have emerged, and financial recovery appears slowly moving forward, utility mergers are beginning to appear likely again. Although regulatory hurdles still impede new transactions, some changes at the federal level are reducing concerns about market power and competition. Plus, changing market conditions and new compliance requirements are strengthening the case for scale economics.
Can a broadly based committee resolve the nuclear waste dilemma?
The Department of Energy assembled an all-star Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. With such political and industry heavyweights as Brent Scowcroft, Lee Hamilton and John Rowe, the commission must be taken seriously. But can a broadly focused committee finish the decades-long battle to close the nuclear fuel cycle?
Utilities cut support for climate-change deniers.
This summer marked the 40th anniversary of a pivotal event in the environmental movement. On June 22, 1969, the oily surface of the Cuyahoga River caught fire, drawing national attention to the plight of America’s lakes and rivers. However, clean water standards didn’t begin with the Cuyahoga River fire, the EPA or the Clean Water Act. A series of common-law nuisance lawsuits, combined with a patchwork of state laws and (weak) federal statutes, preceded the comprehensive legislation that emerged from the smoke of the Cuyahoga. Today we’re seeing a similar progression in greenhouse gas regulation, with civil suits, state initiatives and marginal federal actions apparently marching toward a national climate policy.
Tackling climate change is a monumental challenge. Power-company CEOs discuss long-range plans for a climate-friendly energy economy.
Seven CEOs—from Exelon, Great Plains Energy, National Grid, NRG Energy, Duke Energy, FPL Group, Great River Energy—explain how global warming is affecting their customers, shareholders, and employees.
Policymakers are setting sights on new challenges facing utilities.
Utilities in the United States are heading into uncharted territories, and the regulatory landscape is changing accordingly. To learn what it takes to tame this new territory, we spoke with three FERC commissioners, a state regulator, and a Western governor.
As rate disallowances become more commonplace and capital requirements expand, infrastructure development will come with a higher price tag.
As the industry’s regulatory risks and capital requirements expand, financing will come with a higher price tag—and another cost pressure in the ratemaking process.