Johnson Controls

Economy of Small

How DG and microgrids change the game for utilities.

Energy microgrids have emerged as more than just a curiosity. The technology is improving, costs are falling, and developers are lining up to build projects. How will microgrids overcome the substantial challenges that stand in their way?

Vendor Neutral

Panda Energy awards turnkey $300 million turnkey contract to Siemens and Bechtel; Dominion starts up 585-MW CFB plant; Ocean Power Technologies and Lockheed Martin partner on wave power project; Infigen awards wind turbine service contract to Mitsubishi; ITC commissions 345-kV line in Oklahoma; ABB tests world’s biggest DC transformer; Xcel gets green light for Tres Amigas-area transmission upgrades; plus contracts and announcements from Elster, Sensus, Enertech, and others.

Green Dealing

Renewable M&A lives on despite death of Treasury cash grants.

The U.S. Treasury cash grants for new renewable power projects expired at the end of 2011. These incentives, which were implemented under Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, helped to support continued capacity additions throughout the recession. The impending expiration of these grants caused a wave of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity during 2011 as developers and financiers rushed to get deals done and to begin construction in order to meet the Section 1603, 5-percent safe harbor threshold by the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline.

EV Hype and Hope

Six months after Solyndra's bankruptcy, the resulting controversy is affecting other companies that were hoping to secure loans from the Department of Energy. Lawmakers want to know whether the DOE loan program has stalled out -- and whether reforms are needed to clarify the mission and the risks for taxpayers.

In the past few years, hype over electric vehicles reached a crescendo in the media and in political circles. The good news is that this hype spurred major investments -- both private and public -- toward R&D and commercialization that’s already starting to show results (See “The Hundred-Dollar Race” - left). The bad news, however, is those results haven’t yet translated into dramatically better or cheaper cars in showrooms, leaving first-generation EVs to compete against mature gas-powered cars with much lower sticker prices.

Vendor Neutral

(March 2012) DTE Energy awards contract to URS; Exelon and Constellation reach an agreement with Electricite de France; Dominion and Lockheed Martin enter a joint marketing and development alliance; plus deals involving Nissan North America, CenterPoint Energy Field Services, Honeywell, Silver Spring Networks, and others.

Energy Efficiency: 15 percent by 2020?

A new survey of energy industry experts reveals a surprising consensus on the size of the energy efficiency resource. Overall, energy efficiency is expected to lower electricity consumption by 5 to 15 percent, and natural gas consumption by 5 to 10 percent. These results debunk the notion that conservation is a fad. On the contrary, they herald a new beginning for energy efficiency.

Efficiency pessimists contend that energy efficiency (inclusive of demand response) is unlikely to make much of a dent on energy consumption and peak demand in the year 2020 since all the low-hanging fruit has been harvested. Ergo, the solution to meeting the nation’s future energy needs in a carbon-constrained future is to build more power plants (preferably those that don’t burn coal), transmission lines and distribution systems.

Vendor Neutral

Itron deploys meter modules throughout Black Hills territory; Siemens to supply gas turbine packages to Mississippi Power; Cisco acquires Arch Rock for IP-based wireless smart metering applications; eMeter closes $12.5 million private-equity round; Enspiria helps NV Energy secure approvals for smart grid plan; American Superconductor invests in wind-turbine blade manufacturer; DOE selects 22 carbon-capture and storage projects for R&D funding; Petra Solar wins Sandia matching grant; plus announcements from Johnson Controls, Tantalus, Cooper Power, ComEd, UISOL, Convergys, SOLON and more

Vendor Neutral


FEI Company, a diversified scientific instruments company providing electron and ion-beam microscopes and tools for nanoscale applications, completed a multiple system installation at the Materials Ageing Institute (MAI) in France, a utility-oriented research center financed by Electricite de France, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Kansai Electric Power Co. and the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute.

Technology Corridor

It's not just for enviros any more.

It's not just for enviros any more.

Green building. It's a trend that means newly constructed buildings consume 10 to 50 percent less energy than traditionally constructed buildings, yet cost only a small percentage more than standard construction. And it's a trend that is rapidly gaining a foothold with large residential and commercial builders. No wonder utilities of all sizes across the country are paying attention.

News Digest

Federal Agencies

NOX EMISSIONS. Generating heavy criticism from industry, on September 24 the Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited final rules on nitrogen oxide emissions, outlining a plan to reduce NOx by 28 percent by year 2007 in some 22 states and the District of Columbia, with state implementation plans due by September 1999 and controls in place by 2003, to be carried out through a "cap and trade" program to buy and sell NOx emissions credits.