Ready for the Future? The Power Generation Challenges
Interview with: Mike McInnes, Senior Vice President, Production, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association Inc.
Miami, FL, January 18, 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Electricity is the backbone of modern society, with total consumption almost being a direct reflection of its economic status. However, with the scarce resources and concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, the industry is under pressure to develop solutions to satisfy increasing demands both for the present and future. Mike McInnes, SVP of Production, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association Inc, a speaker at the marcus evans Generation Summit Spring 2010, taking place in Florida, February 21-23, shares his thoughts on the latest opportunities in the industry, renewable energy, and his outlook for the next few years.
What are some of the challenges experienced by power generation and production executives? What strategies would you recommend to overcome these issues?
Mike McInnes: We are facing several challenges in this industry. Every day that goes by, we are still relying on ageing fleet and it seems that every year we have new regulations or the potential for new regulations. The cost of production and greenhouse gas management are also a concern for power generation and production executives. These are my main challenges right now.
A part of Tri-States Greenhouse Gas Management Roadmap, we are looking at a range of resource options including new technology that can help preserve coal as an affordable, reliable and responsible fuel for electricity generation. Part of my carbon strategy is to over time retrofit existing units, or develop more efficient, clean coal resources that can help manage our carbon footprint. Coal will continue to play an important role in our nations resource mix, and we have to stay engaged in discussions and educate the regulators on the effect new regulations could have on our consumers. We need to invest in new equipment and technology that deals with those issues, and need a diversified portfolio to address the carbon issue and ensure a sustainable future.
Even in this period of economic downturn and even as we incorporate energy efficiency and demand-side management, we are still growing. My challenge now is how to put in new resources to handle that load with all of the uncertainty surrounding the industry. We need the resources, yet some lenders and regulators are hesitant to move forward. The affordability of what we are considering is also a critical issue, yet to me it seems that it has either been forgotten or is being disregarded we remain concerned about the cost of all of these strategies.
What opportunities has the crisis created in the power generation and production space?
Mike McInnes: We are seeing increased investment in new technology research, development and demonstration. Investments are being made at the state and federal level, and utilities like Tri-State are investing in carbon capture and sequestration demonstration projects. And for the first time in nine years, construction costs have started to go down and commodity costs have softened, making it a good time to consider building new plants.
What are your thoughts on the Smart Grid venture?
Mike McInnes: I see some huge benefits in Smart Grid as it will allow us to use energy and operate our plants much more efficiently. From that standpoint, it is excellent and I am very excited about it. But I am concerned from a security standpoint. We are increasingly using technologies which can be easily broken into and manipulated to provide the services we rely on. That concerns me. It is the bitter sweet aspect of Smart Grid that we need to address.
What are your thoughts on green technology and energy from waste facilities? What opportunities do they offer?
Mike McInnes: There is tremendous innovation taking place across the industry. In fact, as a cooperative family both Tri-State and its members distribution systems are pursuing community and utility-scale renewable energy projects, including a 30-megawatt solar project to be online next year. But our industry is now seeing some pushback on renewables development based on environmental concerns, and we have to be thoughtful about the costs of renewables and what they can achieve.
Nevertheless, there are many green technologies and generating energy from waste facilities is a great idea, as we have to deal with the waste issue anyway. Cooperatives are developing resources from waste, whether it is recovering waste heat as two of our members are doing today, or developing landfill gas resources. Renewable energy has a lot of potential, but the environmental footprint of some renewable generation technologies, cradle to the grave, is significant on the environment and they are expensive to put in place. But they do supply some of those shoulder requirements that help to broaden the peak and make our entire system a little more efficient.
What are your projections for 2010? What trends or technologies do you see playing out?
Mike McInnes: I am hopeful that we will start to see some carbon rules develop, as we need an idea of where we are going, and we need to ensure any rules protect electricity affordability and reliability. We are also going to have to deal with coal ash regulations. The cost versus benefit ratio of the anti-coal movement is going to be tested around the world, and once consumers realize the cost of eliminating coal, they are going to re-think their position. Still, we are working to develop the technology to deal with these issues and I am hopeful that we are going to see some of those technologies emerge, particularly in the carbon capture and sequestration area. If we get over that hurdle, which will be a big one, it will allow us to effectively manage emissions.
My long-term goal is to have reliable and affordable electricity. All the good things in life that are readily available to people have been possible because of affordable electricity, and that needs to continue. The things we have been able to do for the environment, from hybrid vehicles to the notion of a Smart Grid, all need a power supply. I think reliable and affordable electricity are the single biggest challenges in the world right now.
Contact: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager, marcus evans, Summits Division
Tel: + 357 22 849 313
About the Generation Summit Spring 2010
This unique forum will take place at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Miami, Florida, February 21-23, 2010. Offering much more than any conference, exhibition or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The summit includes presentations on securing growing energy needs, hydroelectric power and renewable generation.
For more information please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the event website at http://www.generationsummit.com/MikeMcInnesInterview
Please note that the summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.
About marcus evans Summits
marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the worlds leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, think tanks, seminars and one-on-one business meetings. For more information, please visit http://www.marcusevans.com
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