Insights from our Editorial Team

  • Set-top boxes underscore need for customer engagement
    Jun 27, 2011 | Phil Carson

    The inefficiencies of "always-on" DVR set-top boxes, which in aggregate waste billions of kilowatt-hours per year in the U.S., underscores the need for customer engagement and a proactive utility stance on electronics creep. This is a variation on the phantom load issue, one that needs to be addressed.

    Comments: 5
  • Obama focus on EVs cuts off Bush initiative
    Jun 26, 2011 | Ken Silverstein

    Hydrogen fuel cells hold the promise of abundant energy and low pollution, possibly replacing oil in transportation and other applications. The challenge is to extract it, store it and transport it in a cost-effective manner. That work is advancing, but the Obama Administration has emphasized electric vehicles and reversed the hydrogen focus of the Bush Administration.

    Comments: 10
  • Public-private partnerships touted as model
    Jun 24, 2011 | Ken Silverstein

    The Obama Administration, technology investors and our columnist tout the efficacy of public-private partnerships as cost-effective means to spark innovations that will fuel economic growth. Our columnist argues that a heavy hand in budget cutting could imperil these efforts.

  • Demand may be rising, due to storms and aesthetics
    Jun 23, 2011 | Ken Silverstein

    Storm-ravaged utilities, particularly in the Southeast, increasingly are placing new transmission lines underground. Aesthetics, too, are driving "undergrounding." Costs remain multiples of overhead lines. And serving underground lines is difficult, costly and time-consuming. Read this column for examples of projects that are proceeding.

    Comments: 2
  • Customer service is going mobile
    Jun 22, 2011 | Christopher Perdue

    In today's market, customers expect their service providers to communicate through a variety of channels, according to their individual preferences. When a utility can provide choices in how and when customers can interact with it, that can build a better relationship with the customer.

    Given the prevalence of smartphones, it has surprised to me that most utilities have not exploited this channel to allow customers to pay their bills and manage their accounts. A recent announcement from TXU Energy may signal that this is changing.

  • New association focuses on advocacy and education
    Kate Rowland, editor-in-chief, Intelligent Utility magazine
    Jun 21, 2011 | Kate Rowland

    Over the past year, smart meters have been both exalted and reviled by electricity consumers. From coast to coast, electric utilities' smart meter deployments have received mixed responses from state regulators, public utility commissions and consumers alike. Last week's announcement of the newly formed the Smart Meter Manufacturers' Association of America offers the industry a cohesive smart meter advocacy and education group, as president Dave Elve explains here.

    Comments: 1
  • EPRI expert offers guidance on issues, how to proceed
    Jun 21, 2011 | Phil Carson

    The process of thinking through and implementing cyber security can be daunting. In this column, the third in a series, we interview Annabelle Lee, technical executive at EPRI, on how to approach the topic and concrete steps that can lead to solutions. If you own, operate or serve an electric utility, you need to read this article.

  • EPRI expert offers guidance on issues, how to proceed
    Jun 20, 2011 | Phil Carson

    Today we're delving into the Stuxnet virus as proof that control systems are vulnerable, the differences in securing IT systems and control systems and the shift in mindset that needs to accompany the shift from an analog, electro-mechanical world to a digital, ICT-based world.

  • EPRI expert offers guidance on issues, how to proceed
    Jun 17, 2011 | Phil Carson

    In the first installment of a three-part series, Annabelle Lee, a technical executive with the Electric Power Research Institute, demystifies effective approaches to cyber security. Lee formerly worked for the National Insitute of Standards and Technology, where she led the process that created NISTIR 7628, "Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security." In this column, Lee addresses how to approach the topic and achieve effective security. If you own, operate or serve an electric utility, you need to read this series.

  • The smart grid and other developments mean a major change for distribution operators
    Jun 16, 2011 | Christopher Perdue

    New developments such as utility smart grid investments, the advent of electric vehicles, more distributed generation, the aging of utility infrastructures, more demand response and higher capacity of intermittent generation on the grid means a major change in the way distribution operators manage the system.