Power Lines Blog

Visiting Watts Bar Unit 2 — America’s First New Nuclear Generation of the 21st Century

DSC_1323

Nuclear power is a complex undertaking, and an important one. If we are truly serious about reducing the carbon footprint of our industry, it needs to be part of our power supply strategy. And TVA, under CEO Bill Johnson’s leadership, is working hard to diversify the power supply of the Tennessee Valley and reduce its environmental impact, while keeping costs reasonable for customers in the Valley. That is no small task, but the TVA employees I met are going “all in” to make it happen.

Read More

Cultivating Our Solar Gardens

WPPI has a new pilot project to develop community solar gardens — good for the residential customers who subscribe to a panel, since they do not have the hassle of having solar panels installed on their own house, but get the benefit of locally-produced solar power—and good for the utilities, since they can operate and maintain the garden, thus better managing the reliability and rate impacts of the facility.

Read More

On the Road in Nashville: Customer Service in Public Power

thumbnail

The utility mounted a very aggressive public relations campaign using multiple media to let the community know and prevent any further thefts. Steve presented on this issue to his fellow Tennessee public power utilities. If one utility sees a problem that creates a customer service issue, it shares that information with others. All public power systems — and their customers — benefit from such a willingness to share.

Read More

Funding Public Power through Municipal Bonds

Bonds_Sue-7-22-2014 copy

Municipal bonds work for public power utilities and their customers. Federal policy makers should recall these facts when proposing to alter the tax treatment of municipal bonds. If public power systems are going to make the needed infrastructure investments to incorporate new technologies, keep our facilities safe and secure, and deal with new environmental regulations, we need to have continued, unfettered access to tax-exempt bonds.

Read More

On the Bleeding Edge of Technology

34-Plug-In-Problems-Woman-with-Remote-7-21-14 copy

The subject of smart grid technology came up. One APPA member utility said that the benefit to customers from installing this technology has not penciled out, given the associated costs. And they were frank to say that they preferred to wait a bit, to see how “early adopters” of this technology fared, rather than make an expensive investment that might turn out to have, as we now say, “issues.”

Read More

Stop Strapping Consumer-owned Utilities to the Procrustean Bed of Mandatory Capacity Markets

Procrustes

The American Public Power Association has had doubts about capacity markets from their inception, primarily because we thought consumers would end up paying too much for capacity. Eight years later, we think that consumers have felt the adverse impacts. We also know that these capacity constructs are not incenting much new generation.

Read More

Teach Them Public Power and Learn XBoxes

34-Kids-Drawings

Public power systems need to engage with their communities and highlight their contributions. But every bit as important is the education of our future retail customers. These young people need to understand just what it takes to produce and deliver their power. Kicking off that process with a “teachable moment” in the 5th grade is a great way to start.

Read More

Public Power Leaders “Find a Way”: APPA 2014 National Conference Recap

National-Conference-6-23

The American Public Power Association held its 2014 National Conference in Denver from June 13-18. Before it gets too far into the rearview mirror I wanted to say what a great experience it was. We heard expert speakers discuss cybersecurity, the political climate, and the economic outlook.

Read More