A number of factors point to expanded nuclear generation. But when?
The role that nuclear power will play in the U.S. electricity generation mix during the coming decades has been a subject of continuing speculation. Few analysts deny the remarkably improved prospects for the existing fleet of reactors: Efficiencies realized by industry consolidation, reactor uprates, and plant license renewals have, in a period of about five years, greatly increased the market value of nuclear plants and the competitive advantage of companies that own them.
A hypothetical look at moneymakers across regions.
How state opposition cowed the feds and turned a powerful rule into just a set of talking points.
A funny thing happened on the way to a standard market design (SMD). What began as a full-fledged rulemaking-with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) giving instructions and imposing deadlines on the electric utility industry-now has degenerated into little more than a set of talking points.
Talk about cold feet.
Some want a tighter grip on generators, but FERC should steer clear.
Why it's just as important for the old economy.
Mention "power quality" and the mind conjures up visions of tech hotels stuffed with Internet servers running 24/7, retrofitted into inner city industrial warehouses-buildings sturdy enough to forgive the heavy installation of custom power supply equipment and racks of batteries. Or perhaps Silicon Valley.
But preference customers still remain a "vocal political force."
With eyes turned again toward Congress, and possible energy legislation, opponents have thrown up yet another challenge to the sale of low-cost, allegedly subsidized power by the federal power marketing administrations. This time, congressional foes of PMAs have gained allies in several investor-owned utilities and in the findings of a report from the U.S. General Accounting Office, requested last year by Congress to aid its deliberations on electric restructuring.
The post-mortems on last summer's price spikes in the Midwest are in. At least three studies of the event diverge in their conclusions:
First, on Sept. 24 of last year, the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found the root cause of the spikes in extreme weather and unexpected outages. It observed no direct evidence of market manipulation and concluded that the events were unlikely to recur.
EPA inventory opens generators to scrutiny, especially if they burn coal.
Hazardous emissions are one thing. Damaging publicity is something else-especially in the point-and-click world of Internet access.
In the coming year, the fuels that utilities choose to generate electricity will fall under a stronger media microscope. That's when coal- and oil-fired electricity generators must begin reporting information about their accumulated releases of toxic chemicals for 1998.
Public power is competitive power, and that keeps IOUs on their toes.
There they go again. You know who I mean, the critics who fear us in a competitive electric utility environment, or who oppose, for ideological reasons, government involvement in the power business.
Charles E. Bayless, in his article "Time's Up for Public Power" (Public Utilities Fortnightly, July 1, 1998), offered up just the latest of these below-the-belt blows.
It's tempting to respond in kind to these critics. Why? Because they torture the facts and distort the record.