Refining the business case for advanced distribution investments.
As utilities plan their capital budgets for the next few years, investments in advanced distribution systems face an uncertain future. Customers question the value—and propriety—of some programs, while long-term strategic goals depend on seamless integration. What will be the path forward for smart grid technology?
(March 2012) DTE Energy awards contract to URS; Exelon and Constellation reach an agreement with Electricite de France; Dominion and Lockheed Martin enter a joint marketing and development alliance; plus deals involving Nissan North America, CenterPoint Energy Field Services, Honeywell, Silver Spring Networks, and others.
The buzzword of the day is ‘analytics.’ But what does it mean?
As utilities seek to extract value from their technology assets, smart grid and metering data is becoming a gold mine for insights about how to improve service and save money. Fortnightly’s Alyssa Danigelis speaks with experts in the growing field of data analytics, to learn how big data might reshape the utility landscape.
(December 2011) Lafayette Utilities System selects Elster’s EnergyAxis as its AMI system; ABB wins contract from Hydro-Quebec; Sapphire Power Holdings acquires gas-fired power generation from Morris Energy Group; Consumers Energy awards contract to Babcock & Wilcox; plus announcements and contracts involving BP Wind Energy, Abengoa Solar, Samsung C&T and others.
(October 2011) Wind Capital group selects RMT Inc. to design and construct wind energy facility; MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. and SunEdison acquire Fotowatio Renewable Ventures; Solar Community and Reliant Energy team up to offer financing options; KEMA selects Green Energy Corp.’s software; Leviton unveils commercial electric vehicle charging stations; plus announcements and contracts involving Science Applications International Corp., Tantalus, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. and others.
When you sell demand response back to the grid, how much capacity are you now not buying?
When customers sell demand response into a regional capacity market (such as PJM’s Reliability Pricing Model, known as the RPM), how much credit should they earn for agreeing to curtail demand and alleviating stress on the grid — that is, for reducing the market’s need for generating capability and capacity reserve margin? And further, should the amount of credit depend on whether the customer works with market aggregators, known both as CSPs (“Curtailment Service Providers”) or ARCs (“Aggregators of Retail Customers”)? One view would pay customers for the full extent of their curtailment of demand — known as its “Guaranteed Load Drop” (GLD). The other would limit capacity credit to the customer’s prior load history — “Peak Load Contribution,” or PLC. The answer may well dictate whether regulators continue to treat “energy” and “capacity” as two distinct concepts.
Out of market means out of luck—even for self-supply.
When the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its so-called ”MOPR“ decision in April 2011, approving a minimum offer price rule (or bid floor) for PJM RPM capacity market — and then on the very next day did much the same for New England’s FCM capacity market — FERC did more than just prop up prices. Instead, it created a nightmare scenario for utilities that still own their own generation. These utilities, who choose to “self-supply” with their own plants, rather than buy capacity from either the RPM or FCM, adequacy rules, could now be forced to pay twice for capacity — if their own plants are deemed inefficient or uneconomic.
(March 2011) TVA and EPRI demonstrate solar-assisted EV charging station; Ford unveils the all-electric Focus; Central Maine Power awards substation contracts; ERCOT deploys ABB software in nodal market; FirstSolar starts up PV plant for Southern Company and Ted Turner; plus contracts and announcements involving Open Systems International, Verizon, Suntech Power, Alcatel-Lucent, Siemens, Cisco, Elster, Sensus, Silver Spring Networks and others.
Raising the stakes in RTO markets.
Generators and demand-response providers are reaping rewards in forward capacity auctions, causing suppliers to go shopping for the most lucrative markets. Now the Midwest ISO is trying to catch up, by proposing its own auction for years-ahead resource bids. But does RTO shopping serve the interests of customers, who are legally entitled to rates that are just and reasonable? Why are some state policy makers advocating a return to old-school RFPs for long-term contracts?
Are subsidies the best way to achieve smart grid goals?
FERC has proposed that wholesale energy markets should subsidize load reductions with full LMP (locational marginal price), without deducting the customers’ retail savings. Such a policy could distort the market, and other solutions might achieve the same objectives more efficiently.