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Contact: Chriss Swaney
(412) 268-5776

For immediate release:
July 23, 2001

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Create Institute To Make Electricity Industry Reliable, Competitive

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University researchers have formed a new Electricity Industry Center to make the electricity industry more competitive and improve the nation's energy system by developing new approaches to the generation, distribution, marketing and use of electricity.

A $1.75 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. will be used to change perceptions about the industry, open up new business opportunities and provide technical expertise to various public policy issues.

Carnegie Mellon researchers M. Granger Morgan, professor of engineering and head of engineering and public policy and Lester B. Lave, a university professor of economics will be the center co-directors. Alex Farrell, a senior researcher, will be the center's executive director.

Motivation for creating the new center comes from a litany of rolling blackouts, price spikes and increased dependence on foreign energy products. In the past three decades, the electric industry has faced challenges from rapidly tightening environmental regulations, public scrutiny of nuclear power and a lack of new power plant construction.

Electric power is a vital necessity to modern life and a key to the digital economy. The companies that build and operate the nation's electric power system generate four trillion kilowatts of electricity a year or sales of about $250 billion (2.7 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product). More than 500,000 workers are employed by the industry.

Carnegie Mellon researchers said "new ideas are needed to reflect the changing nature of the energy industry which is so important to the nation's prosperity."

Creation of the new center also comes at a time when the Bush administration plans to jump-start a broad energy policy for the nation and nudge Congress to act quickly.


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