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.
Continuous improvement requires changing practices and cultural norms.
Hossein Haeri, Heidi Ochsner and Jim Stewart
As efficiency programs mature, utilities and regulators will be challenged to keep producing demand-side resources. A systems-oriented approach can yield cost-effective results.
Distributed solar might be a game changer, but at what cost?
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
My friend Reggie recently asked me for advice about installing photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of his boathouse on the river. It has no electricity now, but he wants just enough PV to power a few lights, an automatic garage door opener, and the occasional power tool. I told Reggie the same thing I tell everybody who asks me about rooftop solar: it's exciting but still expensive. Then Reggie explained why I was wrong.
Competitive energy suppliers are infuriated by Michigan’s regulatory framework. The state partially unbundled its utilities, but left generation tied to retail operations. Then it opened the retail market to alternative suppliers, but capped their participation at 10 percent — severely limiting true competition. Former FERC Commissioner Bill Massey says Michigan’s schizophrenic approach is stifling innovation and saddling customers with unnecessary risks and costs.
Technology creates new opportunities for demand- side management
By Kristin Brief and Brad Davids
Customer value is a key factor in any smart grid business case. But not all customers are created equal. In particular, commercial and industrial (C&I) customers have greatly different needs, considerations and sensitivities, compared to residential customers. As a result, demand response and efficiency programs won’t produce the same results across customer classes. Getting the most from the C&I market will depend on integrating smart grid with smart building technologies.
Rate caps have squelched competition in Pennsylvania.
The prolonged period of capped rates in Pennsylvania—years longer than in any other state—has produced some benefits and some drawbacks. On the plus side, due largely to the rate caps, electricity costs in the Commonwealth have fallen from 15 percent above the national average in 1996 to below the national average in 2007. This has been a significant benefit, but a temporary one that many have taken for granted.
Fickle behavior by LSEs threatens to destabilize organized markets.
Dodging capacity payments might become an art form among load-serving entities and large electric consumers, as evidenced by Duquesne’s plan to exit PJM, as well as alternative market-designs proposed by large users. But such behaviors might only serve to disrupt organized markets and cause a return to full regulation.
As president and CEO of ISO New England, Gordon van Welie has his feet planted firmly on each of two sides of a cultural divide. First, as a transmission system operator, van Welie must keep the lights on and the wires humming. At the same time, he must run a regional market—an ongoing experiment in freewheeling capitalism in an industry fraught with more long-term uncertainty than perhaps any other.
Taking the anti-FERC approach to the grid.
Vikram Janardhan, Ajit Kulkarni, Ph.D., Narottam Aul, and Ng Meng Poh
A common response to energy-market risk is a complex market infrastructure, with significant administrative effort and cost dedicated to managing the risks and ensuring that the market functions in a transparent and effective manner. But is market complexity a necessary byproduct of competitive markets?
Energy guru Joseph A. Stanislaw explains how the battle between government and the marketplace is changing.
It is a debate that rages to this day: whether rate-based regulation (government) or electric competition (marketplace) is a more effective model for the utilities industry and world economies. Joseph Stanislaw gives us a uniquely authoritative view on this perennial question.