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Green Transition

Integrating distributed resources into the smart grid.

Fortnightly Magazine - May 2011

Instead of deepening our reliance on fossil fuels, we can today build a robust, flexible and smart grid that can eliminate our deadly addiction to carbon. We urgently need to introduce cost-reflective prices that communicate the variable cost of generation and distribution to customers, thus encouraging them to become active participants in the electricity market. In the process, we will strengthen our economy and our energy independence and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. What could be better than that?



1. The BP’s Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico and the recent leak in the Alaska pipeline exemplify the risks.

2. This definition doesn’t include existing large hydro, which will make the percentage significantly higher.

3. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

4. A survey by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released in Aug 2006, Assessment of Demand Response & Advanced Metering, examined the potential gains in smart meters and enabling technologies to implement demand response.

5. 20% Wind by 2030 , U.S. DOE, May 2008

6. E.g. Premium Power Corp., a Boston-based company, builds non-toxic, utility scale flow batteries capable of storing, decades-long cycling, and instantaneously dispatching megawatts of power at what might become a disruptive price point.

7. New York Times , Nov. 29, 2010.

8. As an example, in the ERCOT system in Texas, wholesale prices routinely fall to very low levels or even become “negative” during early morning hours when wind production is at its peak and system demand is very low. The opposite occurs on hot summer afternoons when wind generation drops off as system load peaks, resulting in rather significant price differentials.

9. For example, see FERC’s National Assessment of DR Potential , June 2009, and FERC’s National Action Plan on DR , June 2010.

10. For example see FERC Order 719 and 676-F, specifically obligating ISOs and RTOs to focus on the demand-side and/or to develop demand response programs in wholesale markets.

11. For example, see presentation by PJM’s Peter Langbein at UISOL’s Utility Integration Conference in Philadelphia in November 2010.