Renewable Energy

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.

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.

Transforming Production Tax Credits

Three reasons to make them a permanent part of U.S. energy policy.

For the past decade, the renewable energy industry and various branches of the federal government have engaged in an ungainly, enormously unproductive two-step on production tax credits (PTC) for renewable energy projects, and for wind projects in particular. The PTC can be transformed into a keystone of an effective energy environmental policy. However, to achieve this transformation, the misperceptions must be challenged.

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?

Preparing for the Next Nuke

Using scenario analysis to help utilities map out their strategies.

If you were a utility executive today would you consider building a new nuclear power plant? What if the United States decided to implement the emission reductions called for in the Kyoto Protocol without adopting it? How might your business be affected by another 9/11-scale terrorist attack on a U.S. target? What would be the impact of growing reliability problems in key U.S. power markets? Some utility executives are asking themselves just such questions.

Synchronizing on West Point

Could local generators be used either to regulate voltage or control the power factor on distribution systems in New York?

Reactive power is becoming a hot issue in many regions of the country. Regulators and grid operators are grappling with ways to account fairly for reactive power supplies, and to encourage such resources to come online where they are needed. These analyses, however, are largely ignoring a vast fleet of infrastructure already installed on the network. West Point military academy, for example, has four small synchronous generators that are used for combined heat and power or emergency power applications. If these generators also were used as synchronous condensers, they might supply additional revenue to pay for the distributed energy investment.

Power Measurements

The new Clean Air Interstate Rule is having an unexpected impact on power generation asset values.

With compliance costs estimated at $50 billion to $60 billion during the next 15 years, the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) affects just about every market participant in the electric power industry.

Risking a Green-Power Outage

Will eco-power survive the next five years?

"If you build it they will come" has not proven to be applicable for green-power programs. Utilities have to build their programs in the right way, with the right rewards and incentives—then the customers will come. If utilities do not do this, then the effort to expand renewable energy markets will suffer a great setback, one from which it will take many years to recover.

Windpower: Beyond Boom and Bust

Windpower is caught in a vicious cycle of Washington politics. Escaping the cycle will require visionary leadership in Congress and the utility industry.

With the Production Tax Credit subject to the whims of a fickle Congress, U.S. windpower remains in an ongoing state of uncertainty. Will the United States embrace the technology?