How DG and microgrids change the game for utilities.
Energy microgrids have emerged as more than just a curiosity. The technology is improving, costs are falling, and developers are lining up to build projects. How will microgrids overcome the substantial challenges that stand in their way?
The rationale for microgrids.
Edward N. Krapels and Clarke Bruno
Despite an array of challenges, microgrids are becoming a force in the market. Innovative projects bring greater efficiency and resilience.
Independent microgrids are coming. Will franchised utilities fight them or foster them?
Sara C. Bronin and Paul R. McCary
Despite offering a range of benefits, microgrids are proving to be controversial—especially when non-utility owned microgrids seek to serve multiple customers. The biggest battles are taking place in the realm of public policy. But utilities that pursue collaboration rather than confrontation are finding interesting opportunities for profitable investment.
Three CEOs, three business models, one shared outlook.
Cheap gas, regulatory uncertainties, and a technology revolution are re-making the U.S. utility industry. Top executives at three very different companies—CMS, NRG, and the Midwest ISO—share their outlook on the industry’s transformative changes.
Can time-of-use rates drive the behavior of electric vehicle owners?
Time-of-use (TOU) pricing might seem like the ultimate solution to ensure electric vehicle charging loads won’t overburden the grid. But will TOU rates guide drivers’ behavior when it’s time to top up their batteries? Early indicators suggest the answer varies among vehicle owners and pricing plans.
Connecting vehicles to smart systems.
Electric vehicles (EV) are just getting started, with rapid growth ahead. Plug-in hybrids and other EVs could capture 20 percent of the U.S. auto market by 2030. When planning for future infrastructure and technology needs, utilities face difficult questions about how EVs will interact with the utility grid. A comprehensive approach to communicating and integrating vehicle information will allow utilities and drivers to make the most of smart electric transportation.
Utilities prepare for a bumpy road.
Ed May and Stephen Johnson
Electric vehicles promise major benefits for utilities, including increased electricity sales and accelerated transformation of passive energy consumers into collaborative stakeholders. But EV integration faces major challenges, from transformer overloading to the complexity of managing mobile transactions. Addressing these challenges in a collaborative way will allow the industry—and the country—to realize the benefits of a healthy market for electric transportation services.
Utilities work toward a more mature relationship with customers.
The notion that utilities don’t do a good job of consumer engagement is only half true. The fact is, many customers don’t want to be engaged. They just want cheap, reliable electricity, no questions asked. But smart grid advancements call for a dramatic improvement on both sides of the conversation. Utilities are struggling to create a more mature relationship with their customers.
Leaders adapt to strategic shifts in the utility landscape.
The industry is getting more complex every day. Senior executives at Southern Company, PPL, TXU Energy, Direct Energy and PJM discuss business trends, resource strategies, electric vehicles and customer engagement in the smart-grid era.
Can the grid handle the coming electric vehicle load?
As electric vehicles become commonplace, will the grid be able to handle the extra load? Too many cars plugging in at once might cause disruptions and necessitate costly infrastructure upgrades. Handling the vehicle load in a smart way, however, will ensure a smooth transition to the plug-in future.