Tomorrow’s options for low-carbon baseload generation.
Three Mile Island
Misguided policies threaten resource adequacy.
Resource planning is grinding to a halt. From EPA regulations to irrational markets, today’s policy missteps threaten tomorrow’s reliability.
Portfolio planning in the age of gas.
PUCs are concerned that a rapid shutdown of coal-fired plants will start a full-tilt dash to gas—similar to the one that caused bankruptcies among independent power producers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But this time around, ratepayers and not IPP investors will be stuck with the risk, if utilities rush to add all that new gas-fired capacity to rate base.
Re-starting the Big Build calls for revisiting cost-recovery mechanisms.
As the industry resumes major capital-spending programs, utilities and their stakeholders are rightly concerned about the effects on prices. Traditional regulatory approaches expose utilities to risks and costs, and can bring rate shock when capital spending finally makes its way into customers’ bills. Pre-funding investments can provide a smoother on-ramp to bearing the costs of a 21st-Century utility system — but it also raises questions for utilities to address.
(December 2011) Responding to Contributing Editor John Bewick’s analysis of factors impeding the nuclear renaissance in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Plus comments about construction work in progress provisions as a strategy for saving ratepayers' money.
Protecting the smart grid requires a broader strategy.
NERC’s critical infrastructure protection (CIP) standards set a minimum level of security performance—and only for high-voltage transmission systems, not the distribution grid. A compliance-checklist approach to security might lack the adaptability needed to combat evolving threats like the Stuxnet worm. A multi-layered, risk-based approach will provide better protection for the emerging smart grid.
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.
Only the fittest solutions survive in America’s policy wilderness.
All things being equal, momentous events like the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Arab spring would bring fundamental changes in U.S. energy policy. But things aren’t equal, and they never will be under America’s democratic and capitalistic process. Frustrating? Maybe, but it’s the only way to ensure our decisions are based on sound economic and environmental principles.
Life, death and nuclear fallout.
Because we can’t define the consequences of nuclear accidents — and because radioactivity is invisible and undetectable without a Geiger counter — nuclear power’s risks are like shadowy monsters of unknown proportions, inspiring irrational fear. But that’s no excuse for complacency. Learning the lessons of Fukushima-Daiichi requires first acknowledging that we might have overestimated our ability to manage nuclear risks.
Local communities welcome new reactor projects.
Visitors to Waynesboro in northeast Georgia might be surprised at local residents’ opinions about two new nuclear energy plants planned for that site; namely, they’re giving the reactors a warm welcome.