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Fortnightly Magazine - May 2011

Green Transition

Integrating distributed resources into the smart grid.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The remedy for America’s gravest economic woes may lie in a smart grid that can deliver vast amounts of clean, renewable energy while enhancing our energy security and democratizing our energy system. Although regulatory questions and technical challenges might dominate the industry’s short-term focus, the smart grid’s driving forces parallel America’s long-term national interests — a fact that should guide ongoing technology strategies and investment decisions.

Vendor Neutral

(May 2011) Florida Power & Light unveils hybrid solar power plant; SECO selects Sensus for smart grid technology; Lockheed to implement Con Edison energy efficiency programs; Elster partners with SAIC to deliver comprehensive smart grid solutions; Columbia Power Technologies deploys wavepower prototype system; plus contracts and announcements from GE, Siemens, Verizon Wireless, DT, Xcel, Tenaska Solar and others.

Transactions

(May 2011) Capital Power acquires Bridgeport Energy plant; ReEnergy Holdings acquires cogeneration facilities; Dominion Resources raises capital through bond issue; Edison Mission Energy refinances debt and others.

A Beautiful Mess

Only the fittest solutions survive in America’s policy wilderness.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

All things being equal, momentous events like the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Arab spring would bring fundamental changes in U.S. energy policy. But things aren’t equal, and they never will be under America’s democratic and capitalistic process. Frustrating? Maybe, but it’s the only way to ensure our decisions are based on sound economic and environmental principles.

A Buyer's Market

Getting the most from demand response—despite a flawed FERC rule.

Constantine Gonatas

FERC’s new rule on compensation for demand resources tips the market balance toward negawatts. Arguably the commission’s economic analysis is flawed, and the rule represents a covert policy decision that stretches federal authority. Nevertheless, economic benefits will result if DR programs are well implemented to avoid gaming the system and distorting the market.

People

(May 2011) Entergy Corp. names vice president of federal governmental affairs; Black Hills fills two executive positions; plus senior staff changes at Alliant Energy, First Wind, UniSource Energy, Consumers Energy, Midwest ISO, and others.

Balance of Power

Large grids can integrate more wind—without major burdens.

Richard Lauckhart

Despite the variable nature of the resource, wind can be managed so that it will not impair the reliability of a utility system. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed a rule that would require changes to the way transmission service is scheduled, which would enhance the ability of balancing authorities to integrate wind.

Embracing Wind

Integrating renewables in New York.

Rana Mukerji

New York has developed new market mechanisms intended to effectively incorporate large amounts of renewable energy in the future — up to six times the current levels of intermittent energy without impacting system reliability. New York ISO executive Rana Mukerji explains how the market will drive new investment in renewable energy in the state.

Treading Water

With no guidance yet from FERC, Atlantic Wind is forced to wait.

Bruce W. Radford

Touted as the nation’s first-ever “offshore transmission highway,” the proposed Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) high-voltage power line in theory could foster dozens of wind farms in shallow offshore costal waters up and down the mid-Atlantic seaboard — but only if federal regulators can get buy-in for new transmission planning rules that give precedence to large, macro projects aimed at boosting renewable energy. Otherwise, the grid project might never pass muster with the engineers charged with OK’ing new power lines, since the AWC is probably not needed to maintain reliability, and likely would not make electricity rates any cheaper for East Coast ratepayers. Should wind energy developers start with massive grid projects to attract clusters of wind turbines, or should the wind farms come first?

Spent-Fuel Fedcorp

The Blue Ribbon Commission’s best answer for the nuclear waste dilemma.

John A. Bewick

As the Fukushima-Daiichi crisis unfolds, the U.S. DOE’s Blue Ribbon Commission is preparing its initial recommendations on how America should deal with its commercial nuclear waste. Early indicators suggest it will endorse the so-called fedcorp model—creating an independent federal corporation, similar to TVA. But a fedcorp structure, by itself, won’t resolve the spent-fuel dilemma. Success will require a strong mandate, consistent funding—and a totally new approach to siting and management.

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