EnergyBiz Magazine May/June 2010
In This Issue
  • YOU KNOW WE LIVE IN TRANSFORMATIONAL times when the governor of a Midwest industrial state scrambles to Washington to address a group of energy industry leaders gathered to discuss America's looming energy revolution.“The winners of the 21st century energy economy are being chosen today,” Ohio's Gov. Ted Strickland told attendees of the second EnergyBiz Leadership Forum in early March.Clearly,...
  • EUROPE'S UTILITY REGULATORY MODEL IS now unfolding. But the process hasn't been an easy one as commissioners there have wrestled with how to dislodge national interests.For more than a year now, the European Commission has forced utilities to legally separate their generation assets from their transmission lines. The goals have been to increase the opportunities for alternative and greener energy...
  • Utility Snapshot
    DIVERSE FACTORS ARE SHAPING the future of utilities worldwide. In Russia, the foreign investment climate is warming. However, investors are still concerned about political stability and regulatory certainty.Russia is the leading natural gas producer globally. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Russia possesses 27.5 percent of the world's gas supply. About half of its own...
  • FROM LINEMEN TO FIELD TECHNOLOGISTS
    THE WICHITA LINEMAN MAY STILL HAVE A job in the utility of the future, but he won't be driving alone down the main road searching for an overload. He, or she, will be part of a mobile unit dispatched by a computer that identified a problem as soon as it occurred and may be called something like a “field technologist.”More to the point, that lineman won't be the iconic symbol for the power...
  • Dealing with Attrition
    WORKFORCE ATTRITION is threatening the future of the energy industry. We've all heard the good news. Work to complete construction of Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar unit 2 is under way. The Federal government has earmarked $8 billion in loan guarantees to support development of two new nuclear reactors in Georgia. For the first time in decades, America will be building nuclear power...
  • TROUBLED WATERS AHEAD
    CONSUMER ELECTRIC RATES ARE GOING TO have to go up because of pressures on utilities to change radically in a short time frame, say the leaders of five co-operative utilities from across the United States interviewed in an EnergyBiz Leadership Roundtable recently at the annual meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Atlanta.Despite those concerns, the executives all...
  • POSSIBLE HARBINGER OF MERGER TREND
    IF FIRST ENERGY'S CURRENT BID FOR Allegheny Energy is successful, it would be a good sign other utility mergers are likely to follow. But it's not likely that those that follow would attract as much attention because this get-together of First Energy and Allegheny is going to produce a real whopper. The consolidation is going to create one of the largest energy providers in the Midwest and Mid-...
  • FROM BIOMASS TO UTILITY POLE MOUNTED SOLAR
    LONG BEFORE CARBON CAP-AND-TRADE OR RENEWABLE energy mandates became part of the utility lexicon, California was out in front developing green energy. California is still way out in front in one important way, but there are plenty of followers, with utilities everywhere building and buying renewable energy assets from coast-to-coast.With mandates for renewable energy in 29 states, California is...
  • A CONVERSATION WITH MARTHA WYRSCH, VESTAS AMERICAS USA CEO
    WIND POWER TURBINES CONTINUE TO SPROUT ACROSS the American landscape. One Johnny Appleseed of a firm, Vestas of Denmark, is doing much of the planting. To understand the company and its ambitions, EnergyBiz recently interviewed Martha Wyrsch, chief executive of Vestas Americas USA, in her Portland, Ore., riverfront office. The 52-year-old Wyrsch, a veteran of the natural gas sector, was named to...
  • EXPANDING THE FOOTPRINT
    GEOTHERMAL ELECTRICAL GENERATION IS A BASELOAD renewable energy source that uses heat from the earth to create electricity. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the geothermal industry has the potential to generate 39,000 megawatts of electricity in the United States using existing technologies.Today, 144 projects estimated to be under development in the United States are projected to...
  • CREATE JOBS WITH CLEAN ENERGY PLAN
    IN THE THIRD YEAR OF CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE ABOUT how to respond to accelerating climate change, a new imperative for action has emerged. Now we see that the energy sector is the most fertile territory in our labor economy for job growth. We need 10 million new jobs to return to full employment. And without putting Americans back to work at the rates that existed prior to the Great Crash of '08,...
  • PATH TO GROWTH
    MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE HESITATION ON the part of utilities to adopt new sources of energy such as solar. What these analyses miss is the fact that solar power has a great deal to offer to American utilities that need low-cost, clean and reliable energy. The solar industry and utilities can work in partnership to better meet America's electricity needs while creating quality, high-paying...
  • YOU CAN SEE IT ALL ACROSS OUR LAND.The scaffolding for a new energy economy is being erected. Wind turbines continue to sprout at a rapid pace. Engineers are tinkering with equipment to catch and bury greenhouse gases.And yet, there are major concerns.Today, as perhaps never before, the energy sector is looking to Washington for some important answers.Will a greenhouse gas emissions program get...
  • The Ohio Advantage
    THE WINNERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY ENERGY ECONOMY are being chosen today. And they will be determined by ingenuity and skill, infrastructure and location, far-sighted investments and visionary policies. All of that, you'll find in Ohio.First Solar opened its production facility in Ohio in 2000. The facility began with 50 employees in Ohio. The number has doubled and redoubled and is in the process...
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  • The Indispensable Role of Utilities
    THE UTILITY INDUSTRY NEEDS TO FIND WAYS TO BRING THE benefits of the green economy to farmers, homeowners, renters, business people, the residents of our cities, suburbs and towns—everyone.An energy transformation is a matter of sustainability. Green energy promotes energy independence through the domestic production of clean energy, especially near population centers. Green energy is a growth...
  • Addressing Carbon
    FOR MANY UTILITIES, THE OVERWHELMING SCIENTIFIC consensus that carbon pollution is leading to a dangerous warming of the planet has changed business as usual. Utilities have taken steps to increase efficiency measures—actions that cut pollution and save money. Others have changed to comply with rules guiding business in several states and in response to a growing global marketplace.If America is...
  • Paying for Smart Grid
    ONLY ABOUT 22 PERCENT OF UTILITIES ARE LEADING THE change to smart grid technology with systemwide deployments. Pepco Holdings is part of the 22 percent, thanks to good relationships with regulators and the needs of a very driven, technology-oriented service territory.The company's three utilities serve about 1.9 million customers in urban, suburban and rural markets. Pepco Holdings also has a...
  • Preparing for Tomorrow's Nuclear Power
    TODAY, WE ARE REVIEWING 13 APPLICATIONS FOR 22 NEW reactors. It is not the role of the NRC to promote or discourage the use of nuclear power. The future of nuclear power—whether it expands or contracts—is ultimately one for the public to determine through the actions of the public and private sector, the administration and Congress. The NRC is prepared to ensure that any potential new plants...
  • Diverse Sources Lower Costs
    THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY'S RECENT decision to delay until early next year its previously announced regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants under the Clean Air is encouraging. A pause gives lawmakers time to establish a climate policy.A climate policy should minimize the cost to consumers, encourage diverse technologies and recognize realistic timeframes in which new...
  • ONE STEP CLOSER TO DEPLOYMENT
    THE UNITED STATES HAS TALKED ABOUT the potential benefits of solar energy since the days of Jimmy Carter's presidency. To date, the technology has had a minimal effect on the nation's energy supply, but that may soon change, thanks to the work of researchers at the Massachusetts institute of Technology.Known for its top-notch engineering program, the university has recently taken the lead in...
  • INVISIBLE ENERGY SOURCE
    THERE IS A SOURCE OF ENERGY THAT IS plentiful, economical, benefits the environment and can be found in almost every building and home in the United States regardless of location, and you're probably already using it today to some degree. It's called efficiency.We're not talking about efficiency efforts that require major sacrifices, nor are we talking about renewable energy sources such as solar...
  • AN ACCEPTED TOOL
    THE ANCIENT CHINESE PROVERB, “MAY YOU live in interesting times,” applies to the utility industry today as never before. Facing challenges associated with capital availability, system adequacy, new renewable portfolio standards, aging workforce and aging assets, utility executives are constantly balancing the inherent tradeoffs associated with implementing divergent policy requirements. Consider...
  • INDUSTRY INTEREST GROWS
    EARLIER THIS YEAR, RWE INNOGY OF Germany and BMC of Sweden announced that they would be building the world's largest-capacity wood pellet production plant in Georgia. When completed next year, the facility is expected to produce 750,000 tons of wood-based biomass annually to be burned in power plants as a source of renewable energy.Burning wood pellets in power plants has been more widely...
  • AUBREY McCLENDON STEERS CHESAPEAKE ENERGY
    AS NATURAL GAS BECOMES EVER MORE significant in our national energy scene, one man, Aubrey McClendon, has emerged as the sector's pre-eminent champion. McClendon is chairman, chief executive and president of Chesapeake Energy, which finished last year with $7.7 billion in revenue, down one-third from $11.6 billion in 2008 primarily because of sharply lower natural gas prices. A year ago, he wrote...
  • FERC TAKES STOCK
    RETAIL, MUNICIPAL AND INDUSTRIAL consumers of electricity are pressing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to impose new performance metric reporting requirements on Regional Transmission Organizations, the big grid management organizations that wholesale energy to about two-thirds of the users in the United States. Ultimately, the aim of groups such as the Electricity Consumers Resource...
  • REGULATORS PLAN RESPONSE
    AGING INFRASTRUCTURE, WHICH CONTRIBUTED to several power outages in the past few years and which could lead to the closing of a nuclear plant, tops the priority list of issues faced by regulators in New York.When a Nor'easter struck in March, the failure of antiquated overhanging power lines led to outages that triggered the deaths of six people in the metropolitan area and the loss of...
  • CURBING COSTS WHILE BOOSTING RELIABILITY
    A 2009 SERIES ON NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO drew parallels between the build out of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System and the potential of expanding the interstate electric transmission grid. The Obama administration and countless other sources have used similar language to press for additional transmission investment.It is easy to see the lure of the comparison. Yet, for all its power to help...
  • NEW APPROACHES TO STORING WIND POWER
    IN EUROPE, THE UNITED STATES AND OTHER parts of the world, mandates requiring that high percentages of energy come from renewables in the near future are elevating interest in energy storage.The expected excess wind power from offshore North Sea turbines, especially at night, has driven a search for large-capacity energy-storage solutions. While alternatives were considered, the idea of using...