At the opening ELECTRIC POWER 2009 plenary session, both the keynote speaker and the Power Industry Executive Roundtable participants kept circling back to the problems created by a public and lawmakers who seem to be promoting policies without an adequate understanding of energy realities. Most of the speakers acknowledged that the industry itself is partly to blame, but nobody offered a way forward.
What makes more sense to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants—a cap-and-trade regime or a carbon tax? It’s a contentious issue among those who generate power and among academic economists and policy makers.
As expected, President Obama has named Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Gregory Jaczko, an ally of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as chairman of the NRC, almost certainly dooming the Yucca Mountain, Nev., site for disposal of spent nuclear fuel.
Many U.S. power companies are focusing their hiring efforts on military veterans. According to human resources HR experts, it makes a lot sense—beyond pure patriotism. Vets are motivated, experienced, often well-trained, and instilled with team-work. Plus, there is a great need to replace the retiring “baby boomers” generation who have populated many key industry jobs. In some cases, there’s even a financial incentive for hiring vets.
The Obama administration has unveiled its long-awaited policy on cyber security of government and private-sector communication and distribution systems. Is it less than meets the eye, as some critics argue?
Clashes between industry and the Department of Commerce on backward compatibility of standards could stifle and delay the development of a “smart” electric transmission and distribution grid.
The Obama administration has pulled the plug on the Department of Energy’s attempts to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars. (The Bush administration had been touting H-powered cars for many years, with nothing to show for the effort other than large expenditures and a General Motors concept car that cost in the millions to build.) At about the same time, the Obama administration announced it would resurrect the billion-dollar FutureGen coal-fired generating project, aimed for Mattoon, Ill.
Gas found in shale deposits and recently discovered natural gas hydrates may be game-changers when it comes to supplying natural gas to the United States.
Though Canada is rich in fossil fuels, nuclear power may fuel a significant portion of the nation’s future electrical generation needs, especially in provinces that have traditionally relied on hydropower and fossil fuels.
Q: What do you get when you gather roughly two dozen top researchers from academia, government, and industry to speak on interdisciplinary energy-related issues for a week?
A: A lot of informative but crowded slides, high-octane brain power, fact-based analysis of where we are and we’re headed globally, informed questions, and surprisingly practical answers.