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Fortnightly Magazine - May 2013

Old School Microgrid

Resilience depends more on determination than technology.

By Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

A brutal storm ripped through southwestern Minnesota in April and snapped 2,000 power poles. Worthington Public Utilities kept the lights on with a seat-of-the-pants microgrid.

Energy Efficiency's False Hope

Only behavioral change will reduce energy consumption.

Andrew Rudin

Standards and technology don't reduce energy consumption, despite the claims of efficiency zealots. Real energy savings only come through behavioral change.

People (May 2013)

New Opportunities: Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy, was named to a committee composed of CEOs from the utility and nuclear industries that will receive regular briefings from the FBI, National Security Agency, Department of Energy, and Department of Homeland Security to begin cooperative efforts on cybersecurity issues.

Transactions (May 2013)

Dominion agreed to buy three merchant power plants from Energy Capital Partners; First Solar acquired the 150 MW Solar Gen 2 project; Dynegy subsidiary Illinois Power Holdings will acquire Ameren Energy Resources and three subsidiaries; and others ...

Congestion on Trial

PJM and the crisis over FTR underfunding.

Bruce W. Radford

PJM’s latest crisis—the underfunding of financial transmission rights that we’ve seen over the last few years—pushes regulators right to the edge. How far do they trust wholesale power markets? Do they accept the idea, proven by a famous economist, that freely traded financial instruments can work just as well—better even—than firm, physical contract rights?

Economy of Small

How DG and microgrids change the game for utilities.

Michael T. Burr

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?

Redefining Normal Temperatures

Resource planning and forecasting in a changing climate.

Robert E. Livezey and Philip Q Hanser

Utility planners depend on an accurate estimate of normal weather to forecast resource needs and costs. But as the climate changes, so must the definition of ‘normal.’

Rethinking Capacity Markets

A pragmatic new approach to assuring reliability.

Randall Speck and Kimberly Frank

The latest dispute over PJM’s bidding rules has raised the level of uncertainty in organized electricity markets. Efforts at reform have created a market structure so jumbled that it can’t produce just and reasonable rates -- or assure adequate supply resources. It’s time for FERC to consider alternative approaches to market design.

Transmission Policy in Flux

More planning, fewer incentives, and a black swan on the horizon.

David Raskin

The transmission superhighway still needs major investments. Rate incentives were working -- until FERC started backing away from them. FERC should assert its authority more aggressively to promote the vision of a robust interstate grid.

ISO 50001: Busy Work or Revolution?

Supporting continuous improvement in energy management processes.

Chad Gilless

By promoting the ISO 50001 energy management standard to industrial customers, utilities can increase loyalty, encourage efficiency, and support industrial growth.

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