Each month, Electric Light & Power provides additional articles and supplementary information to go with the current issue in print. Check here for the latest new additions.
Electronic EHS management system maximizes compliance for electric utility industry facilities
By Steve Haroz
For those at electric utility facilities who work with it daily, environmental, health, and safety (EHS) compliance is synonymous with long, confusing, and stressful hours of sorting through paperwork and regulations. Trying to navigate through the maze of EHS regulations and requirements can create disorganized havoc in a company, and when multiple facilities are added into the mix, the confusion is only amplified.
One database, many uses
By Cliff Demczuk, Northeast Utilities, Geoff Gowan, ABB Inc. and Bob Fesmire, ABB Inc.
Interval meter data–it’s the basis for utility revenues, but as information technology has advanced it’s become a valuable commodity in its own right. The rising demand for customer usage data has put legacy utility IT systems to the test. Most of these systems were developed at a time when speed and throughput requirements were much different than they are today, and meter data was used in a more limited set of applications.
What’s your plan to make 2004 a great year for customer service?
By David Saxby, Measure-X
Every utility in the country has created a plan and a budget for how they will utilize their resources to best manage their company in 2004. Many have also crafted a marketing plan to sell additional products and services. Others have strategies in place to strengthen the relationships they have within their communities.
Slashing the cost of generator monitoring on the grid
By Ginni Stieva, Power Measurement
When power producers look to connect to the electrical grid, they must meet the information needs of all involved parties: generator owners, transmission companies or ISOs, and facility operators.
Mobile technology gaining acceptance, momentum among managers
Erica LeBorgne, Syclo
Results of a survey of EL&P readers show mobile technology has an increasing presence in utilities and is gaining acceptance as a viable solution to increase worker productivity. Over half of the respondents have already implemented or plan on implementing mobile technology in the next 12 to 18 months.
Potential solution for electric transmission constraints
Gunther J. Weisbrich, ENECO Texas LLC
A new technology, wind amplified rotor platform (WARP), was originally designed for traditional wind farm application. A new application is the Trans-WARP Tower, which is a dual use design intended to be both a transmission tower and electrical generation tower. It is a wind pipeline, which can provide a means to replace the electrical losses due to transmission and also supply supplemental electrical energy to the connected conventional power plants.
Transformer monitoring and diagnostic techniques
Joseph Carbery, The Ardry Group
The debilitating effects of moisture in power transformers can lead to unexpected electrical failures of transformers, which can also be debilitating to a utility’s bottom line.
This case study shows how the fifth largest utility in the world, Eskom, developed a method to continuously dehydrate transformers while they remain in service.
Powering customer satisfaction through quality assurance
Roger Woolley, etalk
Understanding the importance of managing customer relationships is vital to an organization’s success. And in the energy industry where competition is fierce, a forward-thinking customer care program can mean the difference between success and failure. According to Yankee Group, 66 percent of customers defect due to poor customer care, and according to the Harvard Business Review, cutting defections in half will more than double a company’s growth rate.
How Green Mountain came back from the brink of bankruptcy
Christopher L. Dutton, Green Mountain Power Corp.
In early 1998, Green Mountain Power was sagging under the weight of an adverse rate order disallowing costs incurred under an above-market, long-term power contract as well as the burden of its own bureaucracy. Executives in their spacious, well-appointed offices had a great view of the sunsets over Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains, but the business was in peril. From the brink of bankruptcy, Green Mountain Power has reinvented itself to become an energetic, customer-driven technology-based company. Read about how they did it.
Framing tomorrow’s energy landscape
Stuart Price, Contributing Writer
“The coal industry should stop apologizing,” said Anne Korin, director of strategic planning with the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, during her presentation at the “Clean Coal and Power Conference” in Washington, DC (November 17 – 19, 2003). About 250 people attended this conference, organized by the U.S. Department of Energy in conjunction with the People’s Republic of China and several private parties. Speakers explained how commercial clean coal technologies and corresponding federal activities seek to maintain coal as the nation’s premier energy resource.
The NOx market’s wild ride: Are you ready to hop on board?
Peter Zaborowsky, Evolution Markets LLC
This summer was the first of an expanding regional program aimed at reducing the NOx emissions from electric generating and large industrial facilities, which contribute to the transport of smog in the Eastern U.S. It was a wild ride, but analysis of trading patterns indicate prices are settling in for next year. Here’s a look at what happened and what to expect.
Lighting a candle with technology instead of cursing the darkness : Utilities must focus on improved outage management
David Samuel, IBM Corp.
Poor communication has often turned a relatively small-scale outage into a full-scale public relations nightmare. Today’s outage management process, characterized by labor-intensive, voice-based operations, is not designed for efficiently communicating recovery activities to all of a utility’s constituencies. Low-tech communications management can often be a far more daunting task than managing the physical recovery. Using technology that integrates processes, lines of communications and computing resources can help prevent this scenario.
Reacting with frictionless precision
Paul Daugherty, Accenture Utilities Industry Group
For high-performance utility-related businesses, it’s not enough to have hardware–there’s a surplus of that. It’s not enough to have software–software is becoming more standardized, more like a commodity. What matters is the ability to make the small adjustments and marginal innovations that make all of the difference between winning and losing. The proposition that information technology has become a commodity is no longer shocking; in fact, it’s rapidly becoming conventional wisdom. Like most conventional wisdom, it is half-true.
EL&P’s editors recommend books of the month for November
EL&P’s editors recommend books for further reading about selected topics in this month’s issue.
E-billing delivers bottom line results
E-billing case studies demonstrate bottom line benefits at Alagasco, the largest natural gas utility in Alabama, and Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility.
Books of the month
EL&P’s editors recommend books for further reading about selected topics in the October issue.
Benefit of Counsel
Coop acquisitions and PUHCA repeal (hie to, or hide from?)
Kevin T. Williams
A perennial “hot topic” seems to be the repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act. The inevitable result of PUHCA repeal will be increased consolidation of investor-owned utilities. The coops have often described acquisition offers as competition for ownership. Oddly enough, the PUHCA repeal may serve to insulate coops from acquisitions, at least in the short run. Thereafter, though, Williams believes that pressure will both increase and become more diverse as newer, more aggressive players enter the acquisition market.
License renewal means energy renewal
Jack Skolds, Exelon Nuclear President & Chief Nuclear Officer
No new nuclear plants have come into service for more than 10 years. Not a single order for a new nuclear plant has been placed since before the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979. While decisions by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to renew licenses are based on safety, decisions by companies to pursue license renewal are based on economics. For many companies and for the nation, license renewal represents the most inexpensive option for future electricity generation.
Books of the month
EL&P’s editors recommend books for further reading about selected topics in this month’s issue.
On cooperative responses
Kevin T. Williams
Williams, attorney and contributor of EL&P’s monthly “Benefit of Counsel” column beginning in September, dissects the arguments of Glenn English, head of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (July EL&P guest commentary).
English was replying to Williams’ original article on “Balkanization Powers ‘Win-Win’ Acquisitions of Electric Cooperatives” (May EL&P). Williams begins, “While I am flattered that an organization backed by $76 billion worth of assets would find my musings to be so threatening…”
He goes on to challenge allegations of flawed data and misuse of the term “balkanization,” and discusses the difference between “non-profit” and “not-for-profit” amongst other topics.
Demystifying fixed billing
Jan Moore, Direct Options
The first and second articles in this series, “Demystifying fixed billing” (EL&P May and June, 2003) reviewed the benefits of a fixed billing rate plan from the utility’s and customer’s points of views. In this final installment, Moore explores the long-term marketing and operational potential of the fixed billing concept and its impact on a utility’s entire organization.
EL&P’s editors recommend books of the month for August
EL&P’s editors recommend books for further reading about selected topics in the August issue.
BPO for U?
Richard Goreing & Sunil Sharma, EDS
According to research from IDC, worldwide spending on business process outsourcing services (BPO) totaled US$712billion in 2001, and the market is expected to reach US$1.2 trillion by 2006. Couple the above statistics with utilities’ intense focus on asset profitability, process centric thinking and economic value add, and we have a strong motivation for BPO. What was often considered fixed cost overhead should now be viewed as a series of variable business processes that should be managed with the ebb and flow of the business.
Popularity contest: Speech recognition gains favor
Paul Kowal, Kowal Associates
Convenience and personalization are the hallmarks of good customer service, but people don’t often experience both on any given call. The two predominant methods of customer service-touch-tone multiple-choice menus and phone representatives-are limited in their capacity to provide superior service. With these methods coming up short in offering full customer service, one alternative utilities are considering is speech recognition, the ability of computers to understand and process spoken language.
Scarecrow management harnesses fear to create momentum
Robert H. Spencer, Accenture
Major change is a frightening experience for many. Much depends on managing fears and harnessing them to maintain momentum. Here’s how successful managers do this, tips coined for this purpose as “scarecrow management.”
EL&P editors recommend books of the month for July
EL&P’s editors recommend books for further reading about selected topics in the July issue.
EL&P’s editors recommend books of the month for June
EL&P’s editors recommend books for further reading about selected topics in the June issue.
Internal auditing: A safety net for those at the top
In this Online Extra article, author William Bishop III discusses the value of internal auditing for executives of companies in the energy industry.
Global climate change a la Bush
In this Online Extra article, author Stuart Price explores the implications of the often rancorous global climate change debate.
Who is acquiring your easements and rights of way?
In this companion feature to the EL&P May 2003 issue, author Gerald Moran discusses easements and rights of way.
High-speed communication for the utility industry
In this supplementary article to the May 2003 issue of Electric Light & Power magazine, authors Randy Bozeman and Lynn Barousse discuss how the utility industry might use high-speed communications.
EL&P’s editors recommend books of the month for May
EL&P’s editors recommend books for further reading about selected topics covered in the May 2003 issue of the magazine.
Two case studies on benefit/cost ratios for reliability improvement strategies
In this companion article to EL&P’s May 2003 Transmission & Distribution section, authors Richard E. Brown and LaVelle A.A. Freeman provide case study information on benefit/cost ratios for reliability improvement strategies.
Model for a new acquisition policy
This Online Extra article from the EL&P’s May 2003 Finance section covers FERC’s assessment of transmission transactions.