• The fundamental selling point is overlooked

    Jan 06, 2013 | Phil Carson

    Grid modernization, as with upgrades to water and transportation infrastructure, is the linchpin of our quality of life and our economy. If we want growth, we need to invest in the basics. Or cede our world leadership and kiss our quality of life goodbye. 

  • Financial modeling will be crucial to discern strategy

    Dec 11, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Boulder, Colo. continues to offer ideas on how it could work with its spurned power provider, Xcel Energy, in a scenario short of forming its own municipal utility. Meanwhile, it is moving ahead on concrete steps to articulate alternative strategies and develop a financial model to evaluate them. 

  • Colorado city adds engineering, finance muscle, talks to Xcel

    Dec 09, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Boulder, Colo., is talking to former (and current) power provider Xcel Energy, while it also retains engineering and financial expertise to explore municipalization. (The city already has retained legal counsel on regulatory and asset matters in dispute.) The city proceeds on both fronts tomorrow night in an open session. 

  • More systems integration talk, for `next time'

    Dec 05, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Americans love to point fingers, demand something for nothing and pretend they still live in the greatest nation on Earth. Alas, Hurricane Sandy's impact on Eastern utilities appears to establish a vast gap between expectations and willingness to adapt or pay. Recent coverage of the situation underscores why.

  • Austin Energy veteran looks ahead to new paradigm

    Nov 27, 2012 | Phil Carson

    John Cooper, co-author of The Advanced Smart Grid, updates his views on grid modernization and the trend away from centralized power towards "the edge." Is Cooper onto something or is he blowing smoke?  

  • Customer education, KPIs, data analytics, cyber security, all on agenda

    Nov 15, 2012 | Kathleen W. Davis

    The collaboration at Knowledge2012 covered customer service and IT topics extensively, especially in areas where the two overlap, as with mobile applications for consumers, for example. A number of small, medium and large utilities gathered to discuss smart grid customer education efforts, key performance indicators for smart grid success, social media issues, analytics, cybersecurity and even economic challenges.

  • Hard analysis needed of practices and technology

    Nov 01, 2012 | Phil Carson

    As the media documented the damage to the grid by Hurricane Sandy, before economic losses can be properly estimated, questions were ubiquitous and largely unanswered. Good answers will take time. What utilities do with the answers may determine our future quality of life. 

  • Sober discussion needed in wake of extreme storms

    Oct 31, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Killer storms last fall. Killer storms this spring. Killer storm this week. What w're learning about grid modernization and resiliency in the wake of extreme weather events should inform investments going forward, if hype, spin and unsubstantiated claims are subtracted.

  • ICC approach on cost recovery is slowing projects

    Oct 29, 2012 | David O'Brien

    A former regulator, now consulting with Commonwealth Edison in Illinois, expresses concern that Ilinois regulators are applying an inappropriate cost recovery mechanism to interest on billions of dollars in capital invested for grid modernization. 

  • SGCC study shows education increases favorability

    Oct 22, 2012 | Phil Carson

    The more consumers learn about grid modernization, the more they like it and support it. But the needle measuring consumer awareness hasn't moved in a year, despite widespread smart meter rollouts. That's good news and bad news in one.

  • Longtime CEO identifies pressures affecting modernization

    Oct 10, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Could utility commissions at the municipal level help insulate muni utilities from local politics? Do "joint action agencies" provide the needed clout and financing to assist munis buffetted by pressures on their business model? A long-time executive offers insights.

  • Long-time CEO identifies pressures affecting modernization

    Oct 09, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Everyone knows that "the circumstances" for the power sector have changed over the past century, but what about the business model(s)? Today, a longtime utility manager with experience in all utility business models, calls into question the public power business model in particular.  

  • Both approaches reveal serious shortcomings

    Sep 11, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Addressing cyber security for the power sector drives many conversations: mandates versus voluntary programs, IT versus industrial control systems, technology versus people, the list goes on. We reprise some of the logic to these apparent dichotomies and provide further reading.

  • Utility's smart meter learnings inspire new approach

    Sep 04, 2012 | Phil Carson

    PG&E is applying hard-won lessons in customer engagement to ensure that small- and medium-sized business customers are prepared for state-mandated dynamic pricing progams taking effect this November. The utility used interval meter data to identify which customers would be adversely affected and ensured they had full information on the program and guidance on how to mitigate impacts. 

  • What we should be talking about, now

    Aug 30, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Utilities are admirably going about the business of modernizing the grid, reaching out to customers and adapt their businesses to shifting paradigms. But five issues may present radical challenges and rarely get discussed. Buckle up. 

  • Readers react to notion of tying prices to costs

    Aug 16, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Perhaps reflective of our era, the debate over dynamic pricing appears to pit facts and data against anecdote and invective. Our readers comment on our series on dynamic pricing, the conversation of the month and the topic of the year. The topic isn't going away so alternative views backed by data are welcome and will be featured in a future column.

  • Readers weigh in on why frustration continues

    Aug 02, 2012 | Phil Carson

    It seems many would like to move beyond talking about smart meters and the customer. But since the conversation moved from "ratepayers" to "customers," we've got a tiger by the tail. 

  • Leading utilities share thinking on their projects

    Jul 08, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Energy storage works, but the bigger question is whether there's a business case for it. Southern California Edison and Duke Energy both are implementing demo projects to test applications and value propositions to determine whether storage has an attractive cost-benefit ration versus alternatives. Here's a glimpse, ahead of our webcast this Wednesday.

  • Several views on the moving pieces to come

    Jun 26, 2012 | Phil Carson

    PJM Interconnection has gotten federal regulatory approval for market rules that would allow its utility customers to offer dynamic pricing to their customers who have smart meters and smart thermostats. Finally, progress on the road to dynamic pricing. 

  • Business and technology issues rank high

    May 13, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Five months into 2012,  we pick five top issues for the power industry and provide links to our coverage this year. This is our list. What's on yours?