No, this isn’t a column about the value of providing electricity to everyone everywhere (though that is a worthy goal toward which several nations and nonprofits are working). It’s about why we write and publish this magazine, and for whom.
When I read email sent to our editorial staff and talk with readers at industry events, I’m struck by the wonderful diversity of our community. Our audience in print, online, and on social media is very international. Formal education ranges from less than a high school diploma to PhDs. Job titles are even more varied, especially as our readers include not just those who own, operate, and service power plants but also folks in the regulatory, financial, legal, and broader business community.
I’m also amazed by what kind of magazine different readers think this is. Some refer to POWER as a “technical journal”; many read it for our coverage of industry trends. One fellow I met this spring even mentioned that he enjoys the ads—because they, too, indicate where companies serving this industry are focused. In some ways, these different types of readers “see” POWER differently. So who’s right? Everyone—to a degree.
A Powerful Mission
Our tagline, “Business and technology for the global generation industry,” is ambitious—covering the most important developments around the world is a challenge in the pages of a monthly magazine (even when you add our more-frequent digital content).
Despite its well-deserved reputation for including a regular serving of technical articles that appeal to engineers and other plant personnel, POWER never has been a “technical journal.” Originally founded by advertising salesmen, POWER—unlike peer-reviewed academic journals, with their footnotes and reference lists (and high subscription costs)—hews to the “magazine” end of the periodical spectrum. Even in detail-rich articles, we aim to make the presentation of technical information as accessible as possible to both “plant people” and “office people”—those who may need to understand the basics of new technologies and practices in order to make operational or investment decisions. Though the magazine’s coverage has evolved over time as the industry has become more diverse and complex, even issues of POWER published 100 years ago included everything from engineering articles to coverage of regulatory and association developments to new product pitches to personnel management tips.
POWER began as, and remains, what is known as a business-to-business brand. Through print, online, social media, and webinar content, we provide a place for power generators and the companies that provide equipment and services to them to learn about and talk to each other. We try to be the one must-read title for anyone involved in the industry. We don’t expect all readers to read all stories, but since we know you can’t read every niche publication, academic paper, blog, and e-newsletter, we aim to bring you the essentials—as well as a few surprises.
POWER for All Generating Technologies
One thing POWER is not is a lobbying voice for any particular fuel, technology, or policy. (That’s sure to annoy those who wish we’d “support” coal or nuclear or renewables or gas.) Although editors and contributors examine specific options and developments in both commentaries and state-of-the-technology pieces (and may, on occasion, make a passionate case for a particular fuel or policy), POWER continues to serve the entire power generation industry. Regardless of what policies are enacted in the U.S. and abroad, who is currently in office, and which fuel or technology has the economic and operational edge in a particular locale, we’ll be covering what you need to know to thrive in this industry.
Though subscribers involved with nuclear plants are unlikely to read articles about coal combustion, those involved with all fuels should find something useful in a wide range of POWER articles—from those covering legal and regulatory developments to those introducing new and emerging technologies or examining how energy policy and generation projects are evolving in other parts of the world. Such pieces have something of value for everyone.
POWER for All Generations
POWER has always been on the forefront of industry trend coverage, whether that’s boiler safety, nuclear power developments, combined cycles, or now, cybersecurity, distributed generation, and new environmental issues. Of course, the “old” issues don’t go away, even though the details and operating contexts change.
And just as we cover all generation technologies, we aim to address the needs and wants of all generations of readers, from students to retirees. Many of you still insist on a print magazine (which we are happy to provide), but as more of our audience moves to online and mobile technology, we continue to enhance our content on digital platforms as well. After all, just as the “digital natives”—the much-needed younger workers in this sector—are more likely to be enthralled by virtual reality apps than analog dials, they’re more likely to rely on digital resources than their mentors do. Another move in that direction: Along with most other media companies, we no longer print letters to the editor; instead, you’ll find comments on individual stories online at the bottom of the story page.
Celebrating Generation Leaders
Some of our most popular articles over the years have been plant profiles, and with this issue we begin our annual coverage of Top Plant Award winners from the gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable sectors. As in years past, you’ll find more winning projects in some categories than others, depending on the number of interesting projects that were nominated and discovered by POWER editors. There’s only one way to ensure we don’t miss a stellar project next year: Nominate it! Forms for 2015 award nominations can be found online at powermag.com/power-awards. ■
— Gail Reitenbach, PhD is POWER’s editor (@GailReit, @POWERmagazine).