Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Delmarva (Opinion)

Prof. Tylor Claggett in The Daily Times (Delmarva):
Necessary, but not glamorous, is the ongoing maintenance required to keep electrical transmission and distribution systems operating. There also is the more obvious shortage of both generating and T&D assets in this area.

Because maintenance seldom creates headlines, business leaders and politicians are reluctant to invest in this area. As a society, we are paying for this lack of attention with numerous outages recently caused by corrosion, damaged insulation and degraded transformers.

Managers often are rewarded when they show short-run profits. This fact of corporate life provides significant motivation for deferring maintenance. However, utilities must also satisfy the rate-minimizing dictates of public utility commissions. One consequence of holding rates artificially low is maintenance schedules frequently are prolonged and neglected.