EnergyBiz Magazine May/June 2009
In This Issue
  • AEP Views West Virginia Project as Possible Model
    WIDE-SCALE DEPLOYMENT IS AT LEAST five years away. But the architects behind the first-ever power plant to attempt to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions will fire up a pilot project in September in a test that could last up to three years.If the 10-megawatt trial at the Mountaineer Plant in New Haven, W.Va., is deemed successful, then American Electric Power will implement the same...
  • A Competitive Resources
    FOR MICHAEL YACKIRA, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF executive officer of Reno-based NV Energy, deciding whether to purchase geothermal energy to meet the state's renewable portfolio standard is a no-brainer.“It's been commercially viable for a long period of time,” Yackira said. “For us, it's always been the most competitive of the three forms of renewable energy.” geothermal power plants, which harvest...
  • Combined Heat and Power Policies Needed
    COMBINED HEAT AND POWER HAS LONG been a component of the U.S. energy sector. Indeed, Thomas Edison's first power plants captured both heat and power. That's quite an endorsement of the technology. However, despite more than a century of use, CHP still has not reached its full market potential. Policymakers could do a lot to change that.CHP is a suite of technologies that can produce electric or...
  • Providing Flexible Solutions
    NATURAL GAS EMITS ABOUT 45 PERCENT less CO2 than coal and about 30 percent less than oil. The increased use of this clean fuel can combat climate change by reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions. And, because using natural gas directly in America's homes and businesses is by far its best and most efficient use, the more we use natural gas in space heating, water heating andcooking applications...
  • The EnergyBiz Award Winners of 2009
    SOMEWHAT PARADOXICALLY, THE ELECTRIC UTILITY INDUSTRY, ESSENTIAL TO all innovation in the post-industrial age, has been among the least driven by technological or structural innovation. With the exception of certain electric utilities, including some very large ones that no longer exist, the key to success has been stability and predictability. No longer. In the face of a looming environmental...
  • How Executives Become Game Changers
    LEADERSHIP HAS NEVER BEEN EASY, BUT IT ONCE WAS much simpler. Consider the leadership of Alexander the Great. On the battlefield, the place where it mattered most, Alexander led by example, fighting at the head of his troops, visible to friend and foe alike in gilded helmet and white plume. Directions were simple and conveyed by shouted command to those within earshot. But for most of the mass of...
  • Forecasting For Dollars
    IT'S 5 A.M. ON A MONDAY AND OPERATIONS AT THE Puget Sound Energy trading desk are heating up. Actually, as with utilities every where, the Bellevue, Wash., operation is never quiet. This flurry of activity is repeated from coast to coast as the desks gear up for that day's trades and, in this case, as the company's power generation bids are prepared for the day-ahead market for Tuesday.Expected...
  • The Challenges of Big Wind
    STEADIER THAN THE WIND THAT TURNS WIND TURBINES or the sun that charges solar panels, the urgency to integrate intermittent sources and other forms of renewable generation is unprecedented. The challenges to face in doing so are nearly equal to the urgency.Large systems such as PJM Interconnection have been built to support influxes of large amounts of generation through their traditional...
  • LAST YEAR, THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST POWER GRID WAS put to the test—twice—when surges in wind power exceeded forecasts. Both events required unplanned spills through our dams and calls out to regional wind operators to curtail generation.These surges were a wake-up call for the region, demonstrating how quickly wind power is reshaping the future of electricity generation, transmission and...
  • Back to the Future
    RUSSIA, THE BIGGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD BY AREA AND THE FOURTH-BIGGEST BY INSTALLED electricity generating capacity, is nearing a significant milestone. By next year—unless the global recession continues to dampen demand—it should again reach the level of electricity consumption it had in 1990, all of 20 years ago.The collapse of the Soviet Union and the transition from communism hit the entire...
  • Russia Strengthens Ties to Japan
    RUSSIA HAS REDRAWN THE ENERGY MAP OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC region with its $22 billion Sakhalin-2 LNG project, which has recently started operations. The plant, owned by Sakhalin Energy Investment Co. and located in Prigorodny, Sakhalin, will produce nearly 9.6 metric tons of liquified natural gas per year. Ninety-eight percent of this production is already sold in contracts stretching out over the...
  • Ready to Tackle Challenges Ahead
    IT ONCE WAS FAIRLY EASY WORK TO MAP trends in the utility industry and anticipate future directions. The industry was stable and slow-moving for many years. Since October and november, however, all of that ease, along with the stability, has gone out the window.First the economic collapse of October worsened the capital outlook for an industry facing a massive need to build new infrastructure,...
  • Dealing with Shortfalls
    DEMAND FOR ENRICHED URANIUM IS escalating, and three facilities in the works will help fill a gap that will hit in 2013, when an agreement with Russia to supply the material for U.S. nuclear power plants expires.The nation’s existing, if aging, fleet of 104 reactors must find alternative sources, and recently the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission had 27 applications for new ones.Some of those...
  • Radio Waves Effective
    RESEARCHERS AT MIT’S PLASMA SCIENCE AND FUSION Center have successfully demonstrated a new technique that could help improve the efficiency of power generation in large-scale fusion reactors.Funded by the Department of Energy and conducted through a collaborative effort involving scientists from around the world, the work used radio frequency waves to move the plasma inside the university’s...
  • Downsizing Nuclear Units
    SMALL NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS with outputs in the double-digit megawatt range are increasingly being eyed as a way to meet the electricity needs of many regions of the world and to support some commercial and industrial applications.The plants could be especially useful in parts of the world where limited transmission and distribution infrastructure carries electricity. As such, the envisioned...
  • Meter Upgrade Pays Off
    HYDRO ONE’S COMBINED SMART METER network initiative leads the way in developing industry-leading practices, testing leading-edge technologies, and coalescing industry partners to define the future smart grid that will enable enterprise-wide business efficiencies and distribution system modernization. Built on a secure, nonproprietary, standards-based foundation, Hydro One’s high-bandwidth-...
  • Sempra's Bold Initiatives - A Conversation with Neal E. Schmale
    IT MAKES SENSE THAT SEMPRA ENERGY, the parent of Southern California Gas, the largest natural gas distribution utility with 20.3 million customers, would be intent on building its natural gas operations. Sempra, through subsidiaries, holds a share of the monumental Rockies express pipeline project, which is nearing completion, and has been a leading developer of liquefied natural gas terminals....
  • Crisis Brings Unique Opportunity
    ENERGY IS INEXTRICABLY LINKED TO today’s key global challenges – poverty alleviation, climate change and food security. The development of a sustainable, long-term solution to the world’s energy needs has itself become a defining issue of our time.Competitive and environmentally sustainable industry has a crucial role to play in accelerating economic growth, reducing poverty and achieving the...
  • Take Me Out to the Energy Efficient Ball Game
    IF YOU GREEN IT, WILL THEY COME? That’s the question Major League Baseball answers this season after launching an initiative with the National Resources Defense Council to bring green energy into professional ballparks and to the forefront of baseball teams’ concerns, which are more typically focused on pitching, hitting and ticket sales this time of year.The Team Greening Program launched in...
  • Leading on Green Energy
    LAST NOVEMBER, IT WAS MY PLEASURE TO stand with Texas Gov. Rick Perry as we presented Texas’ comments to the EPA regarding its effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. We made it very clear in our remarks that regulating the emissions under the act would have severe adverse impacts on Texas’ industry, agriculture, energy production, small businesses, schools, hospitals...
  • An Agency Above the Fray
    THE PARTY AFFILIATION OF THE U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman or the party composition of the commission has not had a major influence on federal electricity regulatory policy in the past, for three principal reasons. First, the general direction of FERC policy is governed by the missions entrusted to the agency by Congress, as reflected in the statutes committed to the agency’s...
  • Energy Security From Arctic Gas
    BACK IN THE EARLY ’90S, A COMPETITION was growing between Alaska and Canada’s Northwest Territories over the production and delivery of natural gas. Each region had a pipeline project on the drawing board and the race was on to see whose would be built first.Fast–forward to today when the issues of North American energy security and global climate change have been inexorably linked, and we see...
  • The Hunt is on for Expertise
    OVER THE PAST DECADE, OUTSOURCING has spread beyond information technology, call center and other back-office services to other sectors of the electric utility industry.But the lines between pure outsourcing and a business partnership or a sharing of manpower are beginning to blur as companies seek to solve manpower issues, increase efficiency and lower their cost of service.“Over the past 10...
  • Beyond Demonstration
    THE FULL-SCALE ROLLOUT OF A SMART GRID for any utility brings with it many challenges that go well beyond selecting and applying new technologies. Careful consideration for how the smart grid technologies will be implemented and what resources are available will affect the success of any project. As we enter a period in which multiple utilities are embarking on smart grid projects, there is a...