By Lori A. Burkhart
Gas-fired power is king today, but fuel diversity needs and new technologies may open the door for nuclear and coal.
The nation's demand for electricity is expected to grow by over 40 percent in the next 20 years, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Meeting that need will require a great number of new generating plants. The burning question is, what will fuel these new plants?
Developers launch 70,000 MW of new capacity in Texas, PJM and New York state, but how much will get built?
It's so hot down here, it isn't funny," laughed Ken Donohoo, senior transmission systems engineer at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas independent system operator. But no, he wasn't talking about last summer's scorching temperatures.
Instead, Donohoo was referring to some 30,000-plus megawatts of generation capacity proposed to be built in ERCOT between 2001 and 2003.
With so much at stake, why don't utilities ask vendors for plug and play?
Everyone agrees that competitive retail energy markets need interoperable information systems. Otherwise, the high cost of switching proprietary metering and data communications systems could offset savings from customer choice. Standardization reduces the costs of automating operations - also crucial for competitive companies. Interoperable "plug and play" systems can free companies of dependence on expensive, single-sourced equipment. So why do most utility systems remain incompatible from vendor to vendor?
Stephen P. Reynolds
President & CEO
Pacific Gas Transmission Co.
Standardization has been an issue in every industry since the beginning of the Machine Age. As products continue to evolve, we need something like GISB to help find a prudent and appropriate level of standardization.