David Crane has lived the massive power outage in New Jersey that followed in Sandy’s wake. He was without power for days as were thousands of his fellow New Jersey residents. And that has given him some fresh insights.
“Our industry is based on wooden poles,” he said from the stage of the Edison Electric Institute’s financial conference in Phoenix yesterday. “Do you know how insane that is in the 21st century?”
As storms intensive and oceans rise, the benefits of owning your own distributed generation will become compelling, said Crane, NRG president and chief executive.
[In fact, during breaks several conference attendees from the Northeast talked about the generators that they have purchased for their homes – and how to maintain them when they were fired up for many consecutive days.]
Thomas Fanning told the industry leaders and analysts that he has concerns about the future of natural gas. His utility has been able to turn on a dime and boost gas-fired generation while throttling back its aging coal-fired units. But it is inevitable, Fanning said, that as utilities increasingly generate power with gas, as gas becomes more widely used as a transport fuel and as exports inevitably rise – natural gas supplies will tighten and the cost of the fuel will increase.
“Twenty years from now, it will be a big problem,” Fanning said.
Southern Company, which Fanning leads, is building two new nuclear power plants, the first new nuclear units in decades. Nuclear power must be championed by the utility industry and government, Fanning said.
“We need new nuclear as a matter of national priority,” Fanning said.
Our national energy priorities, and the politics of national energy policy, will be the topic of an EnergyBiz briefing that I will moderate Friday morning at The National Press Club. If you are in Washington, please attend. If you are not, listen to our live streaming webcast.
For information, click here.