EPRI's focus toward activities of more short-term benefit to its members. A recent report from the National Regulatory Research Institute (Harunuzzaman et al., 1994) notes that the technical and financial risks inherent in adopting innovative generation technologies may bias technology choices in favor of conventional options. As a result of these trends, the future development and implementation of advanced power generation technologies will likely become increasingly dependent on federal funding of R&D and on federal participation in commercializing new technology, at least in the near-term. Federally supported R&D is unlikely to be an adequate substitute for industry-funded R&D over all timeframes. However, in the near-term some federal support may facilitate more rapid development of technological solutions to problems of national importance, such as reducing the environmental impact of coal-based power generation as required by EPACT, Title XIII, Section 1301.
Under traditional regulation, electric utilities specialized in, and had a monopoly on, the production and distribution of electricity. Sizeable economies of scale were realized under this arrangement, but it did not encourage the capture of economies that result from coproducing electricity and other products, such as steam. Electric utilities did provide steam to some customers but generally only in the centers of large and usually older cities because of the economics of distributing steam. In most cases customers who needed steam for industrial processes produced their own. They might also generate electricity, but for a variety of reasons, including regulation, they could not sell excess electricity to the local electric utility.
The recent changes in the electric utility industry sketched above have created the opportunity to realize economies where electricity, or the fuels to generate electricity, are the by-product of some other industrial process. These processes typically operate at a smaller scale than the conventional electric utility generating unit, and this feature has meshed well with smaller-capacity additions demanded by recent slower electricity growth. The joint production of electricity and steam has been the main beneficiary of these changes to date. Coproduct systems are discussed further in Chapter 6. The gas turbine combined-cycle systems now being installed that use natural gas as a fuel also offer opportunities to use clean coal-based gases, either as an integral part of the power generation system or obtained as a fuel from a separate supplier.
Table 3-1 gives growth rates observed and projected by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) for U.S. electricity demand from 1960 through 2010. According to the most recent EIA projections (EIA, 1994a), electricity demand