Archive: Business

Gencos embrace benchmarking as strategic tool

Today’s utility business models re-emphasize utilities’ traditional mission—producing and delivering reliable, affordable power. Tracking how well that mission is executed is the raison d’être of modern plant performance benchmarking.


Globalization: The new millennium’s "invisible hand"

Participants in the CEO Roundtable at Electric Power 2006 raised a plethora of issues affecting decisions on future electric power generation. Representing a cross section of power producers, the industry leaders made clear that, although globalization has lost its luster in the power generation sector, its impact on the domestic industry remains profound. Ten years […]


World-class teaching lab prepares next generation of plant operators

The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades near Philadelphia has been training power plant operations professionals for 112 years, and its graduates hold top positions at many major gencos, refineries, equipment suppliers, and design and construction companies. Testimonials indicate that it provides one of the best models for training tomorrow’s plant operators.


Preparation keyed Entergy’s responses to Katrina, Rita

With the 2006 hurricane season about to begin, climatologists are predicting that the Atlantic Ocean will spawn 17 “named” storms this summer and fall, with 9 categorized as hurricanes and 5 expected to be “intense.” Whether or not your plant lies in a vulnerable coastal area, you’d do well to learn a few lessons from Entergy’s unique experience last year.


State monitoring fails the cost/benefit test

      Steven F. Greenwald and Christopher A. Hilen Utility regulators in California and other states have begun subjecting power plants to extensive oversight of their O&M activities. These oversight programs are a response to allegations that generators purposely shut operational plants down to drive electricity prices up during the 2000–2001 energy crisis. These state initiatives […]


Brain surgery breathes new life into aging plants

Age is wreaking havoc on the U.S. generation industry, especially the coal-fired sector. Industry conferences are replete with hand-wringing over the "brain drain," the lack of skilled personnel, the meager number of students pursuing engineering degrees, and the accelerated retirement of the older workers who make up the industry’s experience base. On top of this, […]


Balancing people, plants, and practices

An essential ingredient in the success of any business endeavor is thorough planning. We’ve all heard the axiom "proper prior planning prevents poor performance" or a variation on that theme. Why the need for peak performance? Competition within the industry has never been as intense, with utilities combining in search of economies of scale. The […]


Hybrid generation markets endanger competition and innovation

Competition in power generation fosters technical innovation, cleaner power plants, and downward pressure on prices. Before the 1980s, such competition was almost nonexistent: vertically integrated utilities built and operated the vast majority of U.S. plants with oversight by state regulators. The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 and the Energy Policy Act of 1992 […]


New edition of steam plant bible

The long-awaited 41st edition of Babcock & Wilcox Co.’s (B&W’s) Steam: Its Generation and Use (Figure 5) is now available for ordering on the company’s web site, The release of the book is worth noting by power plant engineers for two reasons: The tome is the world’s longest continually published (since 1875) engineering text, […]