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Reliability, Environmental Concerns Top Utility Survey
Service reliability, aging workforce and environmental issues emerged as top concerns in a recent survey posed to identify the most significant issues in the electric utility industry.
The survey, Strategic Directions in the Electric Utility Industry, was conducted online by Sierra Energy Group and sponsored by Black & Veatech Energy. It reports on the opinions, activities and future plans of energy companies in the North American power industry and includes input from nearly 400 energy industry executives.
In the second annual survey, service reliability continued to rank as the biggest overall concern, while the aging workforce moved up to number two from the fifth spot in last year’s survey. Environmental issues remained the third largest concern and aging infrastructure came in forth this year compared to second in last year's survey.
According to the survey, approximately 82 percent of those surveyed believe that global warming is occurring and 44 percent of those respondents believe it is caused by human activity. Therefore about 36 percent believe global warming is real and caused by man. Approximately 35 percent of the respondents have a significant degree of confidence in the underlying climate change science, while 42 percent had little confidence.
The percentage of respondents who thought that some form of carbon legislation will be passed by 2011 remained at 72 percent. Approximately 29 percent of respondents prefer cap and trade regulation, 14 percent a straight carbon tax, 8 percent a statutory physical emission restriction, and almost half (49.2 percent) a hybrid of the others.
According to the survey, the top five supply-side technologies that respondents believe should be emphasized in the future are, in order of preference: nuclear, coal gasification, wind power, carbon capture and sequestration, and solar power.
While the category of aging infrastructure dropped in overall standing in this year’s survey, it remains a critical strategic issue. The percentages of assets that were still within their planned service lives dropped by between 5 and 10 percentage points, indicating that the proportions that are beyond their planned lives are increasing.