MANAGING POWER Direct [January 1, 2012]

Bulls Beating Bears in Shale Gas Inquiry

As the resource gets increased and more sophisticated scrutiny, natural gas from shale looks increasingly like a revolutionary force in energy markets. Most recently, the Washington-based environmental and energy think tank Resources for the Future rolled out a serious analysis of the new method of developing gas, and the issues it presents. The preliminary results look very positive for gas.

Getting Peak Returns out of Peaking Turbines

Gas turbines are expensive. Although peaking units aren't as costly as baseload units, letting them sit idle is still a waste. Yet that is what peaking units spend nearly all their time doing. Some operators only fire up their units a few days a year. That is like putting money in the bank and collecting interest a few hours at a time, rather than all year round. That strategy only works when the payback is extremely high for those short periods.

How Much Should Government Subsidize Energy Projects?

How much taxpayer money should be used to support renewable and clean energy projects? And is federal government getting a good deal for its money? In a time of fiscal distress, with the government facing a huge debt and deficit, policy experts (and the public) are increasingly taking a closer look at these important issues.

Keys to Improving Customer Communication

Utility organizations are struggling to find a way to more effectively and efficiently communicate with their customers about basic information, including their amount due, ways to lower energy usage, and promotions.

New Technology Enhances Grid Stability

For power providers, grid stabilization has been a rising concern in recent years, especially because of the increasing use of intermittent energy sources such as wind turbines. Maintaining a stable electricity grid is difficult because of the unpredictability of intermittent energy sources. If wind turbines, for example, are supplying 5% of the overall power for the grid and the turbines stop moving because the air grows still, the grid has to find a way to kick into overdrive to compensate for this sudden decrease in energy. It's not as easy as it sounds.

Power Grid Cyber Security Strategies

This is the second of two articles addressing the security of the U.S. power grid. Part one outlined the nature of the cyber threat, described the existing regulatory framework for protecting the grid against cyber threats, and identified the uncertain legislative and regulatory future for additional protection. This article presents 10 strategies that grid infrastructure owners can take now to help ensure greater security of the grid.

Social Media and Disaster Management

As demonstrated by last fall's unexpected snowfall in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, and the ensuing lengthy outages and public outrage, crisis communications is a hot topic for power utilities. And in addressing that topic, the role of social media is getting attention as a tool for disaster management.

The Boss and Leadership

Friends, colleagues, and co-workers uniformly called him "The Boss." His life was a story of failure after failure. His greatest fame was his greatest failure—a journey begun nearly 100 years ago, in 1914, to cross the desolate Antarctic continent by land. His doughty ship Endurance became trapped by the encroaching ice in the Weddell Sea north of the continent, isolating Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 27-man crew.

TREND: The Cutting Edges of Human Resource Management

There is a fine line between personnel management and intruding into the personal lives of employees. Staying on the right side of that line is challenging, particularly when prior legal decision are mixed.

Workplace Drama: How to Define It and Identify It

Welcome to "Workplace Drama," a new, regular MANAGING POWER column by noted communications and human resources expert Marlene Chism. Her column will appear in each issue, and as the column progresses, we hope to hear from you with real-world situations and questions, to which Marlene will respond.