The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Electric Idyll

Idaho’s major utility has resisted deregulation and is doing just fine

6 min read
Idaho Power’s dam at Swan Falls on the Snake River
Photos: Andy Anderson

The global trend in electricity and energy markets toward deregulation is now about a quarter-century old. But what began as a movement now looks more like drift, at best. In a report issued earlier this year, European energy markets were found to be suffering from “serious malfunctions,” which prompted an investigation by the office of the European Union’s Competition Commissioner. The U.S. energy sector has never fully recovered from the well-publicized debacles of several years ago, when the state of California was racked by power shortages after corrupt energy traders such as Enron Corp. manipulated the markets.

Still, though much of the energy business has come unmoored in the deluge of deregulation, a few scattered utilities have gone on operating much as they always have, unaffected by the winds blowing this way or that. Among them, Idaho Power Co., based in Boise, has been a particular rock of stability. It is grappling with the usual array of problems facing today’s electric utilities: meeting growth in demand while also minimizing environmental impact; keeping rates competitive; ensuring that its grids are stable while around them instability becomes more and more common; and protecting workers in occupations that can be inherently dangerous.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Deep Learning Gets a Boost From New Reconfigurable Processor

The ReAAP processor allows AI to be faster, more efficient

2 min read
different colored beams of light shooting up
iStock

This article is part of our exclusive IEEE Journal Watch series in partnership with IEEE Xplore.

Deep learning is a critical computing approach that is pushing the boundaries of technology – crunching immense amounts of data and uncovering subtle patterns that humans could never discern on their own. But for optimal performance, deep learning algorithms need to be supported with the right software compiler and hardware combinations. In particular, reconfigurable processors, which allow for flexible use of hardware resources for computing as needed, are key.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Rory Cooper’s Wheelchair Tech Makes the World More Accessible

He has introduced customized controls and builds wheelchairs for rough terrain

6 min read
portrait of a man in a navy blue polo with greenery in the background
Abigail Albright

For more than 25 years, Rory Cooper has been developing technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Cooper began his work after a spinal cord injury in 1980 left him paralyzed from the waist down. First he modified the back brace he was required to wear. He then turned to building a better wheelchair and came up with an electric-powered version that helped its user stand up. He eventually discovered biomedical engineering and was inspired to focus his career on developing assistive technology. His inventions have helped countless wheelchair users get around with more ease and comfort.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}

Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Modeling and simulation in Simulink and Simscape

1 min read
Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Design and simulate a fuel cell system for electric mobility. See by example how Simulink® and Simscape™ support multidomain physical modeling and simulation of fuel cell systems including thermal, gas, and liquid systems. Learn how to select levels of modeling fidelities to meet your needs at different development stages.