EnergyBiz Magazine November / December 2011
In This Issue
  • THE KEY TO UNLOCKING AN ENERGY REVOLUTION
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    I READ BILL GATES' OBSERVATION about batteries in a book review of Daniel Yergin's new opus, The Quest.Gates has pointed out that all the batteries in the world can store no more than 10 minutes of the world's energy needs. Increase that capacity exponentially and renewables will become pervasive - and a source of baseload generation. In addition, improved energy storage capabilities would...
    5
  • WHAT WOULD REPLACE THE NUCLEAR PLANT?
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS, critics have clamored for the closing of Entergy's Indian Point nuclear plant, located in Buchanan, N.Y., only 26 miles from densely populated New York City. Indian Point has been deemed a potential disaster site whose safety could be disrupted by an earthquake, hurricane or terrorist attack. When an earthquake rocked Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant this year, emitting...
    1
  • THE PURSUIT OF EFFICIENCY
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    ELECTRICITY IS THE HEART of the U.S. energy economy. And the numbers say so.A report by the Manhattan Institute cites this fascinating statistic: In 1950, 20 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product was directly dependent on electricity. By 2008, that number had tripled to 60 percent. Additionally, the report states that over 85 percent of the U.S. energy growth since 1980 was met by...
  • SOFTWARE BUILDING BLOCKS NEEDED
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    ACROSS THE NATION, energy providers are forging ahead with various initiatives to increase the volume of renewable energy flowing over their networks, and these programs are changing the energy mix. Market research firm The NPD Group found that renewable energy has already become a more popular option than nuclear energy, and wind power will triple from 2011 to 2017, according to market research...
  • LOOK TO THE LONG-TERM VALUE
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    NOW MORE THAN EVER, electric utilities need to be able to accurately evaluate the long-term return on investment in solar energy. Utilities are currently planning large investments in solar generation that will, by some estimates, double annual solar energy capacity in the United States through 2015. Though solar component costs are falling, the concern among utility decision-makers remains: Can...
  • SPRAY-ON ELECTRICITY
    EnergyBiz Novemer/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    IF SEVERAL NEW technology developments prove out, one day utilities, commercial building owners and homeowners may be able to spray a solar paint onto a surface such as a building's roof or glass windows to convert the sun's rays into electricity.Long envisioned as a way to cut the cost of solar cells, researchers have looked for materials that could be sprayed onto different surfaces to produce...
  • THE MAGIC OF PEER PRESSURE
    EnergyBiz Novemer/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    THE OLD ADAGE, "You can lead a horse to water ." seems to apply to utility customers with respect to their use of smart meter information and their actions to more prudently use energy. If managers believe their utilities can simply install smart meters and customers will automatically change the way they use energy, the findings of a 2011 IBM consumer study provide eye-opening evidence to the...
  • THERE IS STILL HOPE
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    THE PAST THREE YEARS under the Obama administration have seen a lot of disappointment for supporters of renewable energy and climate policy, and in an honest assessment of how renewable energy and climate change policy will fare over the next year, it still looks pretty grim. Besides the stimulus, a few pro-green policies have slipped through, but advocates saw the door slammed hard on a...
    1
  • DEALING WITH AN ILLINOIS VETO
    EnergyBiz Novemer/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA may be a big backer of smart grid technology, but top officials of his adopted home state, Illinois, put the kibosh on an ambitious program in September when Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed legislation authorizing Commonwealth Edison to change its rate structure as part of a deployment of smart grid technology."I want to make it clear to the public that they should not be gouged by...
  • ON THE RAMPARTS OF CHANGE
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    UTILITIES ARE READY TO LAUNCH an unprecedented wave of capital investments as they deploy a smart grid and a new era of generation. Trillions of dollars will be spent making natural gas lines safer and wringing ever greater efficiency from the energy sector. State utility regulators will be in the hot seat as the companies they regulate attempt to secure the revenue to cover their investments....
  • MOVING BEYOND FUKUSHIMA
    EnergyBiz Novemer/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    IF EVER AN INDUSTRY WAS PLAGUED with unfulfilled expectations, it's the nuclear energy industry. Even before Three Mile Island in March 1979, the number of planned nuclear plants was shrinking, largely because of the intense capital requirements. After the event, the industry simply fizzled. The River Bend plant in Louisiana, now operated by Entergy Nuclear, turned out to be the last new plant...
  • LARGE COLLECTION OF RENEWABLES DATA
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has an abundance of high-quality renewable energy resource data and maps for the United States available on its Web site at http://www.nrel.gov/renewable_resources Renewable resources can vary considerably from one area to another, but nearly every area of the country can take advantage of some kind of renewable energy...
  • AN INTERVIEW WITH P. UMA SHANKAR
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    INDIA IS POISED for epic expansion of its electric system as it races to power a fast-growing economy and rising expectations of improved living conditions. In the process, it has the benefit of being at the forefront of deployment of just-developed technologies that will give it one of the most advanced grids in the world. To better understand the magnitude of the challenge and its implications...
    2
  • REBUILDING THE BRAND
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    TO GET ITS MOJO BACK in its home state of California, Pacific Gas and Electric executives, led by new Chief Executive Anthony F. Earley Jr., will need to develop a new long-term strategy for the utility, communicate it effectively both internally and externally and deliver a consistent message. The company needs to become a lot less tone deaf in its dealings with state businesses, consumers and...
  • MOTOR CITY UTILITY EXEC WELCOMES ASSIGNMENT
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    For some time now, a thick fog has rolled over San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric, one of the nation's largest utilities. Its smart meters have been criticized as inaccurate, a threat to health and an invasion of privacy. Its leading and losing role pushing a statewide ballot measure seen as anti-public power rankled many. A devastating explosion on a PG&E pipeline a year ago...
  • THE HURDLES OF COSTS AND PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS
    EnergyBiz Novemer/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    THE FUTURE OF THE U.S. ELECTRICITY PORTFOLIO is a complex matter that asks the industry to find a path forward that acceptably balances many different factors. Once one acknowledges that every generating technology carries physical, financial and environmental risks, the conversation can begin in an intellectually honest manner. In the case of the nuclear industry, the issues frequently discussed...
  • WHO WILL FINANCE THE ENERGY FOR OUR FUTURE?
    EnergyBiz Novemer/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    FEDERAL AND STATE FUNDING for renewable projects slowed down in 2011 due to deficits and backlash against increased governmental spending. Tax credits, however, remained to help offset the cost of new renewable projects.At the same time, three innovative solar companies, Solyndra, Evergreen Solar and SpectraWatt, filed for bankruptcy, despite the $527 million of federal loans invested in Solyndra...
  • STILL A WORKHORSE
    EnergyBiz Novemer/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    IN 2035, 20 percent of the U.S. population will be over 65 years old, human presence on Mars may be an established fact, and India is forecast to be the world's third-largest economy, but the U.S. power sector's generation profile will be essentially what it is today: 69 percent of the nation's power will still be generated by fossil fuels. The main difference will be shifts among the fuels'...
  • PRAIRIE STATE ENERGY CAMPUS FIRES UP
    EnergyBiz Novemer/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    IF YOU HAPPEN TO LIVE IN THE MIDWEST, the country's most abundant source of energy may be right beneath your feet. With the United States having more than 25 percent of the world's coal reserves producing more than 50 percent of the country's power, coal is producing stable, low-cost, environmentally safe power for millions of American families. A part of the new generation of coal, the newest...
  • COLORADO’S SUCCESS WITH RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARDS
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    INNOVATION IN THE ELECTRICITY MARKET does not occur as it would in other markets. For starters, most areas of the country are served by monopoly providers. This means there is very little incentive to seek innovative ways to create electricity. Secondly, most providers are heavily regulated, often compounding risk-reluctant utilities with risk-averse regulators. In fact, according to a recent...
  • JUST PLAIN OLD-FASHIONED BANK ROBBERS?
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    ALMOST 150 YEARS AGO, Jesse James galloped across the Midwestern plains, robbing banks and trains on his way to becoming a modernday folk legend. Newspapers at the time helped cultivate James' image as a fighter for the common man because, despite robbing several trains, he seldom targeted train passengers, preferring instead to target the safe in the baggage car. Jesse James may only be a memory...
  • POLICIES CONTRIBUTE TO JOB GROWTH
    EnergyBiz Novemer/December 2011: The Embattled Regulators
    JUST AFTER THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION - an eternity ago - a national mandate for utilities to obtain a fixed percentage of their electricity from renewable energy seemed almost inevitable.After all, pro-renewables Democrats controlled Washington, more than two dozen states had a mandate and clean energy development was starting to be seen as a way out of the economic slide that had just...
  • NUCLEAR LESSONS FROM A TROUBLED YEAR
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    THIS HAS BEEN THE YEAR of nuclear news with earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, tornados and one week in the United States with both an earthquake and a hurricane.Can nuclear survive these operational and safety tests globally? And in the United States? The answer is definitely yes.Can nuclear overcome the public perception concerns? Yes, if we work together with the right tools. Facts trump rhetoric...
    1
  • New Jersey Forges an Energy Policy
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    WHEN A TAX- AND BUDGET-CUTTING Republican like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie throws a wrench into his region's competitive wholesale electricity market, it says something about how state-level interests trump conservative ideas.It also says something about the market obstacles to creating an electrical energy system where lowcost, green electricity goes anywhere we want it - a vision emphasized...
  • GETTING CONSUMER FRIENDLY
    EnergyBiz November/December 2011:  The Embattled Regulators
    WHAT CAN THE HIGH-TECH electric utility industry learn from a 174-year-old soap company?This is a question that has prompted electric industry leaders to reach out to consumer product companies like Procter & Gamble.These leaders are facing a tough challenge. They have technology - the so-called "smart grid" - that offers compelling benefits: It drives economic competitiveness, provides...