EnergyBiz Magazine January/February 2010
In This Issue
  • ONE WONDERS IF BLACKSMITHS AND BUGGY manufacturers more than a century ago ever knew what hit them. New York City in the 19th century had upwards of 200,000 horses to ferry about people and goods. What could possibly disrupt an economic complex built on a wellentrenched reliance on horses for transport? Profound technological innovation, that's what.I was thinking along those lines at the recent...
  • KNOCKING DOWN BARRIERS
    FEW HAVE EVER BEEN MORE CENTRAL TO such a massive overhaul of such a huge swath of the American economy. Matthew Rogers' business card states he is “senior adviser for Recovery Act implementation, office of the secretary.” He oversees the disbursement of $1.3 billion in federal funds a week, steering it toward projects that the U.S. Department of Energy believes will reshape our energy...
  • MAKING THE BUSINESS CASE
    BUILDING A BUSINESS CASE FOR SMART GRID investments is a difficult, if not impossible, task in the current regulatory and economic environment. Despite this difficulty, many utilities have made the reasonable presumption that efficiencies do exist, though in uncertain amounts, and have forged ahead. Similarly, the federal government, in the form of stimulus grants, has made a similar recognition...
  • ANDEAN NEIGHBORS STEP UP ENERGY DEVELOPMENT
    ARGENTINA AND CHILE HAVE MUCH POTENTIAL for developing solar, wind and geothermal resources. Argentina's Patagonia Region, for example, home to the Chubut Wind Power Regional Center, has a theoretical potential for 500 gigawatts of generation.Argentina's electric sector constitutes Latin America's third-largest power market. It relies almost exclusively on gas generation – 54 percent of installed...
  • THE GREENING OF PROGRESS ENERGY
    POLITICS MAKES FOR STRANGE BEDFELLOWS, even in the utility business. Witness the course Raleigh, N.C.-based Progress Energy is taking. Late last year, the company announced it would close 11 coal-fired power plants by 2017, 30 percent of its coal generation in North Carolina. About seven months ago the company announced plans to spend $900 million to build a natural gas-fueled generation facility...
  • Promoting Renewables and Reliability
    APPROXIMATELY 260, 000 MEGAWATTS OF NEW renewable generating capacity is projected to come on line over the next decade, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corp. Wind power is predicted to account for as much as 90 percent of this capacity, followed by solar and other natural energy resources such as biomass, geothermal and hydro power. Integrating this renewable energy, however...
  • A Matter of Keeping the Lights On
    THE STRAINS TO OUR TRANSMISSION SYSTEM HAVE BEEN evident for some time.“The U.S. transmission system is under tremendous strain and only marginally stable,” Wayne Brunetti, the former chief executive officer of Xcel Energy, observed in 2002. “It was designed as a regional system and has been forced to function as a national system, a function for which it was not designed and does not handle very...
  • Electing Poles and Wires
    WITH AMERICANS CONCERNED ABOUT REDUCING greenhouse gases and combating global climate change, support for renewable energy should be overwhelming, right? In theory, yes. But in reality, there is opposition to aspects of green energy—one example being opposition to the expansion of the electric transmission system needed to move the power. However, a tactical campaign approach to transmission...
  • New Directions in Transmission
    IN COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD, THERE IS A GROWING need to move what is expected to be significant amounts of wind, solar and hydro-generated electricity from sparsely populated remote regions to the cities where demand is great.This has ignited a quest for new high-voltage and ultra high-voltage transmission systems that can carry more electricity longer distances. And to be sure these systems...
  • ALL ABOUT FINANCE
    REVENUES ARE DOWN, THE RESULT OF ONE OF THE WORST economic downturns in memory. Yet an unprecedented wave of investment waits in the wings, the result of policy directives and public clamoring for renewable power and a 21st century energy infrastructure. EnergyBiz recently sat down with a group of chief financial officers of several utilities to discuss the forces now shaping the future of their...
  • Here to Stay or Fading Tomorrow?
    WHEN IT COMES TO THE FUTURE OF COAL IN THE UNITED States, it's the Hatfields versus the McCoys. Proponents say domestic coal is abundant, plentiful and cheap and will supply the bulk of the United States' electricity needs over the next two decades. Environmentalists call coal the number one producer of CO2 emissions, a major cause of global warming. They say its cost will rise if Congress passes...
  • Chief Information Officers Speak Out
    WITH FEDERAL FUNDING SPURRING ADVANCED METER INFRASTRUCTURE DEPLOYMENT and many other new demands being placed on utilities, especially their information technology departments that have to help all these new technologies work harmoniously within the utility, utility chief information officers continue to lead toward an uncertain and rapidly evolving future.With the recession still undermining...
  • CIOs of the Year Profiled
    WHILE MANY PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY POLITICIANS, ARE extremely optimistic about smart grid and a reinvented utility industry incorporating new technology, distributed renewable generation and large reductions in carbon emissions, those in the trenches of the utility industry responsible for getting it done are somewhat less sanguine. This includes leading utility chief information officers who were...
  • SHARING RISKS AND REWARDS
    THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY AND the nuclear plant engineering and maintenance services company areva recently announced a noteworthy five-year service agreement. Under the terms of the deal, Areva DZ, a joint venture between Areva and Day & Zimmermann, will provide reactor refueling services, outage optimization, specialized nondestructive examination services, parts and materials, and...
  • LARGE PLANTS GO UP
    TWO OF THE WORLD'S LARGEST PRODUCERS of polysilicon are building $1 billion plants in Tennessee, anchors to an expanding solar value chain in a state that is aggressively courting clean energy business.Hemlock Semiconductor and Dow Corning started construction in November on a facility in north Central Tennessee that will start production in late 2012. Earlier in 2009, Wacker Chemie spent $20...
  • TURBINES AT HARDWARE STORES
    WITH ANNUAL GROWTH APPROACHING 40 percent, wind is the fastest-growing segment of renewable energy, but it still accounts for just a tiny fraction of the electric power used in the United States, around 1.8 percent at the end of May, up from 0.4 percent in 2004. While most of the attention has been on large wind farms, small wind, defined as turbines with capacity of 100 kilowatts or less, grew...
  • INDUSTRY GETS PROACTIVE
    THE SMART GRID HAS THE POTENTIAL to change how energy companies monitor usage and service customers. Although it may be the biggest advancement since the generator, the new capabilities come at a price – more security concerns. The federal government, along with leading energy suppliers, is trying to tackle the challenge before the grid is widely deployed. Nevertheless, the reality is that...
  • AN EXIT INTERVIEW WITH EUROPE'S ENERGY MINISTER
    EUROPE INCREASINGLY SEES ITSELF AS A leader in defining the future of the energy sector around the globe. It has led the way, with some missteps, on carbon emissions trading and has enacted some of the deepest subsidies to push wind and solar generations toward competiveness. Europe, the United States, Asia and the rest of the world are attempting to coordinate a global vision for energy and the...
  • FIGHT BREAKS OUT IN IOWA
    CAPITALIZING ON ITS GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION in the Midwest prairies, Iowa has applied supportive and consistent policies to support wind power, vaulting the state into second place behind only Texas, with its giant, windswept plains.But a dispute between Iowa's two biggest producers of wind energy could dampen the state's push to further increase capacity.In November, the Iowa Utilities Board...
  • UTILITY INTERESTS VARIED
    THE UTILITY CULTURE IS MIXED. AND WITH varied viewpoints, each group is pushing Congress to enact its brand of climate legislation.But a central message that runs through the assorted arguments is that any final laws should cushion the blow by keeping costs under control. Most utility groups favor giving away most of the initial allocations that would allow them to exceed carbon emission limits...
  • CLASSES AND STUDY TOURS
    GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE, CARBON uncertainty, renewable portfolio standards, energy efficiency — these are just some of the critical issues transforming the energy industry today.For over 55 years, the University of Idaho Utility Executive Course has been training utility leaders to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.The course provides comprehensive analysis of the industry's top challenges...