EnergyBiz Magazine July/August 2009
In This Issue
  • SUDDENLY, SOLAR LOOMS LARGE. THE Obama administration would like to boost solar spending 83 percent to energize the economy and retool the power sector.There is a lot to like about solar. I have been watching the technology slowly evolve over the past decade. Some say that it is a few years behind wind power on the economic viability scale. Get it built and the cost of generation is free;...
  • THE TRANSMISSION QUESTION
    THERE WILL BE NO MAGIC INVOLVED IN adding new renewable energy to the electricity mix. It will involve long-distance transmission lines – lines that, in some instances, have yet to be built.While the infusion of federal stimulus funds earmarked for building new transmission is seen as a boon to the industry, it is not a quick fix. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act appropriated $6 billion...
  • WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
    THE NEED FOR A RESOURCEFUL WORKFORCE is a very real issue facing the energy industry. We lament that our colleges and universities aren't producing enough science, technology, energy and math (STEM) graduates. Just as critical, too few people coming out of high schools, community colleges, and technical schools possess the strong math, science and analytical skills key to being successful skilled...
  • LIPA TEAMS UP WITH CON EDISON
    AMERICANS DEMONSTRATE YEAR AFTER YEAR AN INSATIABLE appetite for energy. As our collective electricity needs continue to grow, the need for more power plants also increases. While generating facilities built today are much cleaner and more efficient than the fossil-fuel-burning plants built more than 50 years ago, as with the majority of Long Island's generation fleet, their emissions contribute...
  • MAYORS TAUGHT ENERGY EFFICIENCY
    CHINA HAS EMBARKED ON A PATH-breaking effort to engage local officials on efforts to reduce energy use around the country. Mayors are an important tier of government in China, with strong local planning powers. In many cases, cities are part-owners of the local electricity or district energy system, so they are well positioned to set policy or make operational changes designed to reduce energy...
  • ARE ENERGY GRIDS SMART ENOUGH?
    ACROSS THE COUNTRY, ENERGY PROVIDERS ARE prepping for dramatic changes to their distribution networks. Traditionally, dumb and supporting only one-way communications, these networks are now being outfitted with smart meters, so intelligence will be pushed all the way to refrigerators and light bulbs. No longer will utilities need small armies of technicians driving around collecting usage...
  • Industry Steps Up
    TODAY’S NATURAL GAS TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION systems depend on computer technology and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems to operate safely and efficiently. In the United States alone, there are nearly 300,000 miles of transmission pipe and 1.2 million miles of distribution mains, 814,000 miles of service lines and about 65 million services.The need to provide effective...
  • Cyber-Terrorism Implications
    IN THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE, STATE AND REGIONAL electric transmission and distribution grids will be integrated with two-way communications systems and sensors. This technology will enable utilities to optimize grid performance in real time and provide incentives to consumers to reduce energy consumption through demand response. This is the smart grid.The federal government is playing a key...
  • UTILITIES TURN TO MANY AGENCIES
    ONE TIME WHEN YOU CAN REALLY APPRECIATE A well-oiled bureaucratic machine is when it’s pumping out money.The administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package provides some $65 billion in grants and tax credits for an array of energy projects. These funds turn the Department of Energy, other federal agencies and state governments into an ATM machine for the industry—if they know which...
  • THE BIG FREEZE
    TIMES ARE TOUGH INSIDE UTILITY BOARDROOMS. A biting recession and volatile energy prices are creating a backlash among the various constituencies, forcing those members to generally stifle pay raises and especially those for top managers.Executives must be concerned about the messages that their compensation deals are sending to employees and shareholders. It’s particularly true in a difficult...
  • Computers Not Enough
    UTILITIES HAVE BEEN MANAGING ASSETS FOR a long time – lots of assets. Utilities have millions of parts, supplies, wires, capacitors, trucks, tools, laptops, screws, bolts, gloves and goggles. One problem facing them is that in the past, they weren’t very good at managing all those assets. That has changed somewhat in recent years with the advent of enterprise asset management (EAM) and enterprise...
  • THE CHALLENGE OF RESOURCE PLANNING
    WITH CARBON CAP-AND-TRADE LEGISLATION wending its way through Congress in the early part of the year, many electric power companies took a wait-and-see attitude toward new plant construction.That doesn’t tell the whole story, though, because many producers are doing more than wait – they are cancelling coal plants outright. By May, according to the Edison Electric Institute, at least nine coal...
  • BETTER WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
    ELECTRIC POWER PLANTS WITHDRAW ABOUT 190 billion gallons a day, making them the largest user of freshwater in the United States. And although the industry returns all but a small percentage of this water to its source, obtaining access to the needed volumes of water is becoming more costly and more challenging.Even more water will be needed in coming years as electricity demands grow and carbon-...
  • DEALING WITH RADIOACTIVITY
    A 30-YEAR-OLD SYSTEM DESIGNED TO facilitate disposal of low-level radioactive waste has left 36 states with no options for material with the most radioactivity, forcing many hospitals, universities, research companies and power plants to store it on site.The dilemma is helping fuel support to revisit how the United States handles its low-level nuclear waste. The 1980 federal law that authorized...
  • WORLD'S GREENEST BUILDING
    ALDEIA DEVELOPMENT HAS BEGUN WORK on what it calls the “world's greenest building” in Independence, Ore., saying the mixed-use structure will have the top leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating in the world, will feed power into PacifiCorp's grid and will use smart metering techniques.Developers and building owners achieve LEED ratings for buildings when the nonprofit U.S. Green...
  • FLORIDA LOOKS TO MINE OCEAN ENERGY
    BECAUSE ENERGY USE IN THE UNITED States is so dominated by fossil fuel combustion – the Department of Energy estimates that dominance at about 85 percent – it is not an overstatement to suggest that the country has nearly all of its energy eggs in a single basket. The fact that a significant portion of that basket, the half or so holding the petroleum, is woven together with a fragile political...
  • THE FUTURE OF HYDROGEN FUEL
    WHEN YOU HEAR ABOUT HYDROGEN AS AN alternative energy source, you probably think of cars, not wireless devices. While we haven't yet figured out how to make a wireless hydrogen car, Sprint has successfully figured out how to deliver on two of our core commitments – keeping public safety officials connected and creating a cleaner environment – with one key technology: hydrogen fuel cells. Recently...
  • POTENTIAL HARM MUST BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY // A CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL CHERTOFF
    THE NEWSPAPER HEADLINES THIS SPRING screamed that Chinese and Russian spies had infiltrated the power grid and left behind potentially devastating software programs. “The espionage appeared pervasive across the United States…” reported the Wall Street Journal. “There are intrusions and they are growing.”EnergyBiz recently talked with Michael Chertoff, the former U.S. secretary of Homeland...
  • A SUSTAINABLE MANHATTAN
    THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS HAS DEVISED a long-term plan to ensure that its residents live in an environmentally sound metropolis. Plan New York City (PlaNYC), a manifesto aiming to shape New York City's energy future through 2030, debuted on Earth Day 2007. Its ambitious goals include reducing greenhouse gases, improving climate change and planning for the city's growth.The city's expected...
  • ADOPT CARBON EMISSIONS PORTFOLIO STANDARDS
    CONVENTIONAL WISDOM SAYS PUT A PRICE on the carbon emissions that are warming the climate and firms will find a way to reduce emissions. This is right, and getting a cap-and-trade system or carbon tax in place quickly is important so that we work out the bugs and establish a long-term framework to reduce global-warming pollution. But the price must be high enough to induce the needed action. If...
  • IN PURSUIT OF EFFICIENCY AND NEW TECHNOLOGY
    BERMUDA RELIES ON FOSSIL FUELS TO meet 98 percent of its energy requirements. The government operates a waste-management facility through which waste to energy provides the remaining 2 percent. Oil has to be imported, so price increases add to an imbalance of foreign exchange as payments leave the island. Annually, Bermuda imports 1.7 million barrels of oil, thus a $100-per-barrel price increase...
  • SHOW-ME STATE TAKES A LOOK
    MAYOR JEFF SEAMAN CAN LOOK OUT HIS window and see what put Rock Port, Mo., on the map in the spring of last year. Some 20 stories into the sky, four turbines capture wind in 90-foot-long blades. Spinning silently over pastures grazed by cows, the turbines churn out enough energy to power the entire community of 1,300 residents.Rock Port made a big splash by becoming the first town in America to...