EnergyBiz Magazine March/April 2010
In This Issue
  • A crucial energy base
    AS THE DEBATE GOES FORWARD REGARDING the types of energy the United States uses to produce electricity, it is important that those of us in the hydrocarbon extraction business continue to provide factual information to the public with regard to the vital role these forms of energy – coal and natural gas – play in the generation of electricity. The most recent public data shows that coal is...
  • Institutional investors embrace alternative energy
    WHEN MAJOR INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS and venture capitalists start investing in alternative and low-carbon energy companies, it is noteworthy.Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, a Bostonbased coalition of 80 investors who support climate change and manage over $8 trillion of assets, said 85 percent of funding for alternative energy companies will stem from large institutional investors, pension...
  • Business and government must work together
    THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD ARE facing some tough challenges: rebuilding their economies after recession, dealing with the pressures of growing populations and demands for services, increasing urbanization, degradation of natural resources, and climate change. The difficulties involved in finding solutions to these complex issues are enormous.What government representatives decide to do about...
  • Is the industry ready?
    THE RECESSION REDUCED DEMAND FOR almost all products, including electricity. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's recent figures, total electricity consumption declined by 3.6 percent in 2009. This is much steeper than the 1.7 percent decline predicted by EIA in March.The Electric Power Research Institute analyzed how previous U.S. economic recessions affected electricity...
  • Regional utility ambitious
    IT'S CONTAGIOUS. IT SEEMS JUST ABOUT everyone is building wind power generation, and more of it than ever before. In the past two years, slightly more than 15,000 megawatts of new U.S. wind power generation was under construction or put in service, according to the American Wind Power Association. By at least one measure, that's a lot of wind power. New wind power facilities in those years...
  • An emerging nuclear power
    FIRST IT WAS APPLIANCES, THEN CARS. NOW, IT IS NUCLEAR REACTORS.South Korea, which built its first nuclear plant in 1978 using U.S. technology, successfully outbid American-Japanese and French consortia to land a $20 billion order for four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates.The deal, announced in the waning days of 2009, calls for the reactors to come on stream between 2017 and 2020....
  • Year one of a four-year game plan
    President Obama rode to Washington on I a frigid wintry day one year ago promising a brighter and more comforting future. A cornerstone of the president's agenda nas been making investments in the latest energy technologies — money that underscores the transformation to the green economy and the creation of jobs and cleaner air. Toward that end, the administration shepherded through the Congress...
  • Pipelines to tap new resources
    UNLOCKING THE ABILITY TO PRODUCE UNCONVENTIONAL natural gas — natural gas from shale, coal bed methane and tight formations — on a cost-competitive basis has caused a dramatic reversal of trends in domestic natural gas production.This game-changing potential of these developments has caught the attention of other influential opinion leaders. In an August memorandum published by the Center for...
  • Giants Gear Up
    WITH CONSUMER DEMAND FOR HOME energy monitoring devices anticipated to grow – and regulators expected to require utilities to provide consumers with access to the devices and the data needed to make them useful – the race is on to see which providers place their products in consumers’ homes.In that race, some providers are joining with utilities in order to obtain consumers’ energy usage data....
  • Utilities Get Ready
    INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TEAMS ARE hard at work as smart grids get deployed.“We have so much going on with smart grid that it's hard to prioritize work,” says the chief information officer of a large cooperative utility that serves the near-suburbs of a large city that has grown to encompass the co-ops’ service territory. The co-op is installing a mesh-type advanced metering infrastructure network...
  • Salt River Project Gets Results
    THE SALT RIVER PROJECT'S M-POWER PROGRAM serves almost 100,000 customers, making SRP the largest provider of prepaid electric service in North America. M-Power helps customers experiencing difficulties paying their monthly electric bills. The typical customer on M-Power reduces energy consumption by 12 percent, resulting from the budgeting discipline required by prepayment combined with the real-...
  • Empowerment and the Environment
    WHEN MOST PEOPLE THINK OF A DYNAMIC, customer-focused and innovative company, an electric utility isn't the first to come to mind. Technology companies are innovative. Retailers are customer-focused. The electric company is neither, or so the conventional wisdom goes.But all that is changing. Enormous transformation in our society is demanding it.It is true that from an end-user perspective, not...
  • Improving the Experience
    THERE IS AN ENTIRE ECOSYSTEM OF companies that manufacture in-home displays, innovative two-way thermostats and other devices designed to automate the home. The smart grid vision the utility and the vendors in the ecosystem have created is compelling. Customer homes will one day include an LED display mounted on a wall with real-time usage feedback, a remote-controlled thermostat, and eventually...
  • Manufacturers gear up
    WHEN I'M ASKED IF AMERICA HAS THE manufacturing capability to produce the materials for the next generation of nuclear power plants, I take a lesson from history. Within a year of America's entry into World War II, Ford's Willow Run automotive plant in Michigan completed a massive expansion and conversion to the extent that its assembly line was producing a complete B-24 Liberator bomber every 68...
  • Renewables flower in the Northwest
    BRINGING WIND, A VARIABLE ENERGY resource, onto the power grid in large amounts is one of the great engineering and economic challenges of our time. Thanks to a great deal of effort within our agency and within the wind community, the Bonneville Power Administration is maintaining a remarkable pace of connecting wind power onto our transmission system. With 2,500 megawatts connected, we have on...
  • The future of switchgrass
    BIOMASS ENERGY GENERATION SEEMS poised to compete with solar, wind, and even hyro in some regions as a source of renewable energy.Currently, biomass energy accounts for only a small percent of the total electricity produced in the United States. But with Department of Energy prodding and funding, its use is expected to double each year for the foreseeable future. And some believe biomass might...
  • FBI discloses cyber attacks
    IN RECENT MONTHS AT LEAST 31 CHIEF executives of major utilities involved in generation, transmission and distribution, have attended closed briefings by senior officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.There they learned of forensic evidence proving that cyber attackers had penetrated numerous U.S. utility networks and systems, set up connections to outside controllers, and hidden their...
  • A conversation with Microsoft's Craig Mundie
    THE FUTURE OF ENERGY WILL BE SHAPED by increased use of information to bring our sprawling national energy infrastructure into peak efficiency. Microsoft as a global leader in information technologies has begun to move into the energy sector. Last year, it introduced its free Hohm – as in “home” – energy use software to give consumers a tool to manage and curb energy use. To better understand how...
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  • Delaware finds sustainability
    STAKEHOLDERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE positioning themselves to engage in a dramatic transformation of the country's energy systems. The focus is on developing alternative forms of energy that are sustainable, economically viable and environmentally sensitive.The energy alternatives of today will undoubtedly affect future generations in a significant way. We have an obligation to ensure that these...
  • Coordinating federal and state transmission policy
    AS EVIDENCED BY PUBLIC OPINION POLL results, Americans overwhelmingly believe that more electricity should be generated from renewable resources. When pollsters press harder, a majority of respondents indicate that they are willing to pay more for their electricity, but this support frequently breaks down over how much constitutes an acceptable increase. When confronted with the reality that...
  • Engaging customers in energy efficiency
    WHEN IT COMES TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY, expectations of utilities everywhere are on the rise. It's no surprise given the circumstances. Today, consumers use energy in more ways than ever – powering and charging iPods, cell phones, flat screen TVs, computers, games and a host of other electronics. That's in addition to the energy needed to heat and cool homes and power the businesses that fuel...
  • LEGAL COUNSELS OF UTILITIES ACROSS THE land are going to want to carefully review a recent front-page article in the New York Times titled “Courts Emerging as Battlefield for Fights Over Climate Change.”It is the story of Kivalina, Alaska, an island of 400 Eskimo residents just north of the Arctic Circle. The residents have gone to court seeking $400 million to relocate to the mainland from two...