The economy has put state commissioners and regulated utilities in precarious positions. Seven state chairmen explain how they’re applying fair rate treatment.
Dynamic Pricing Solutions
How to account for lack of strong price signals. A hard year puts deregulation to the test.
The overriding objective of dynamic-pricing programs is to create a financial incentive for electric customers to curb load on the grid when the electric system peaks, either by conserving energy, shifting use to off-peak periods or generating electricity on-site. Such action by customers helps enhance reliability and curb the potential for market-power abuse by generators; most important, it obviates the need to build central generation and delivery capacity to serve load that occurs in only a small number of hours. Indeed, experts believe most of the customer benefit from dynamic-pricing programs comes from avoided generation, transmission and distribution capacity costs rather than avoided energy costs. 1
Some also believe that a wide-spread implementation of dynamic-pricing programs ultimately would eliminate the need for subsidized demand-response (DR) programs, in which all customers pay some customers to drop load during event hours called by the system operator during system peaks. 2
But in New York state, the hourly prices that utilities pass through to customers in their mandatory hourly pricing (MHP) programs do not send strong signals to upstate New York customers during peak demand periods (see Figure 1) . Electric load consistently peaks in the summer months. New York state consistently uses about 10 percent of its generating capacity (~3,200 MW) in just 100 summer-time hours. In contrast, driven by spikes in the price of natural gas, day-ahead electricity prices in upstate New York generally peak during the late afternoon and evening hours of the winter months. Day-ahead price signals in much of downstate New York also are more muted than one might expect at the time of the system peak.