Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Demand Growth and the New Normal

Five forces are putting the squeeze on electricity consumption.

It’s tempting to attribute the recent slowdown in electricity demand growth entirely to the Great Recession, but consumption growth rates have been declining for at least 50 years. The new normal rate of demand growth likely will be about half of its historic value, with demand rising by less than 1 percent per year. This market plateau calls for a new utility strategy.

Vendor Neutral

(December 2011) Lafayette Utilities System selects Elster’s EnergyAxis as its AMI system; ABB wins contract from Hydro-Quebec; Sapphire Power Holdings acquires gas-fired power generation from Morris Energy Group; Consumers Energy awards contract to Babcock & Wilcox; plus announcements and contracts involving BP Wind Energy, Abengoa Solar, Samsung C&T and others.

Vendor Neutral

(September 2011) Walgreens to install eVgo charging stations at 800 sites; Siemens and eMeter team up in Maryland; Glasgow muni installs Elster meters; ABB completes Mincom acquisition; JDSU acquires Quanta-Sol PV technology; Survalent installs SCADA system at tidal power project; PECO selects Telvent; plus announcements and contracts involving Trilliant, Sensus, S&C Electric, Navigant, Ernst & Young, PSE&G, Portland General Electric and others.

Cyber Attack!

Protecting critical assets in a hazardous world.

In the wake of recent global-scale cyber intrusions, security concerns have expanded from being compliance and operational issues to fundamental risk management considerations. An integrated, enterprise-wide approach holds the greatest promise for securing critical utility infrastructure against increasing dangers in cyberspace.

Plugging In

Can the grid handle the coming electric vehicle load?

As electric vehicles become commonplace, will the grid be able to handle the extra load? Too many cars plugging in at once might cause disruptions and necessitate costly infrastructure upgrades. Handling the vehicle load in a smart way, however, will ensure a smooth transition to the plug-in future.

Vendor Neutral


Siemens Energy has been awarded an 18-month, $300,000 R&D program by the Illinois Clean Coal Institute to study the effects of coal and coal-derived syngas combustion on the behavior of material and coating degradation in utility boiler and gas turbine environments. Focus areas of the research program will explore materials degradation modes in integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) systems and utility boilers.

Riding on The Wind

Plug-in hybrids usher a new era for wind power.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) open a new intersection between wind power and transportation.

Nuking the Tar Sands

Can nuclear heat allow for low-cost commercial reclamation?

Deposits of unconventional fuels—both crude oil and natural gas—occur in geological environments with very low energy. The exploitation of these low-energy deposits/reservoirs will require significant external energy to replace that lost or never provided by Mother Nature’s handiwork.

Electric & Hybrid Cars: New Load, or New Resource?

The industry must join a growing chorus in calling for new technology.

A growing movement to bring plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars to market has emerged, bolstered by the undeniable economic and national-security benefits that result from displacing gasoline with electricity. Also, our editor-at-large talks with Tesla Motors CEO Martin Eberhart.

Grid Investment & Restructuring: Two Challenges, One Solution

FERC must align the immediate self-interest of profit-maximizing entities with its own view of what is in the public interest.

Two obstacles must be overcome to achieve true competitive markets: reversal of the long-term underinvestment in transmission, and greater clarity in the legal and regulatory environments. How can the industry make the most of a somewhat defensive regulatory posture?