Barriers and breakthroughs to a smarter grid.
Technology is quickly making energy storage more economical and effective than ever before. But companies that wish to invest in storage capacity face a journey through a frustrating regulatory no-man’s land. Opening the gateway for storage to deliver smart grid benefits will require a more streamlined and coherent approach to regulating storage as utility infrastructure.
How we got here and what to expect.
New air quality regulations, including the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, have prompted substantial investments in emission control upgrades. But a series of additional standards—for mercury, toxins, cooling water and ash residue—are driving delays and shutdowns in the coal-fired power fleet. Investment decisions depend on a clear understanding of where EPA is headed, and how the new regulations will affect generators’ costs—and market prices.
Ring-fencing after the subprime meltdown.
Scott Strauss and Peter Hopkins
When Électricité de France stepped in to buy Constellation Energy’s nuclear assets and help the company avoid bankruptcy, the Maryland Public Service Commission conditioned the sale on a set of ring-fencing provisions. The industry has been using such structures to protect ratepayers in complex and high-risk M&A transactions since the 1990s. The protection isn’t foolproof, however—and it can bring problematic regulatory trade-offs.
The economy forces tough decisions.
The economy has put state commissioners and regulated utilities in precarious positions. Seven state chairmen explain how they’re applying fair rate treatment.
Consumers hold the key to technology’s benefits.
Robert Spencer and Mani Vadari
The utility industry tends to think about smart-grid development as a technical challenge. However, smart-grid technology will fall short of its promise if utilities don’t obtain buy-in from customers. Successful utilities will actively engage customers at every stage of implementation, customizing their approach to the sensitivities and opportunities in each customer segment.
Renewables attract utility investment dollars.
New federal policies have opened the gates to utility investments in renewable generating plants. Some states, however, still make it difficult for utilities to put such assets into the rate base. Executives at Duke, OG&E, PG&E and Xcel Energy discuss challenges and opportunities affecting their renewable investment strategies.
Renewable mandates will shift power to FERC but pose problems for RTOs.
A recent survey conducted by the U.S Office of Personnel Management and reported by the Washington Post on March 13 ranked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as eighth best of some 37 federal agencies in terms “talent,” and third in “leadership and knowledge.”
The great debate over emissions allowance distribution.
Various approaches to distributing emissions allowances spark a heated debate over costs and fairness, but the allocation methodology doesn’t determine whether a regulatory scheme will reduce emissions. Auctioning allowances and distributing them for free both offer advantages and challenges for a successful cap-and-trade system.
New rate structures prioritize conservation, but will customers buy it?
As saving energy becomes a policy priority, utility commissioners struggle to reconcile traditional revenue models with smart metering and smart pricing. Unlocking conservation potential will depend on transforming passive ratepayers into smart consumers. Fortnightly hosts a roundtable discussion with commissioners from six states.
A system that measures, monitors, and manages is no longer a Wall Street extravagance, but an industry essential.
Fifteen years ago, you couldn’t fill a small room with energy CEOs interested in discussing how credit risk affects their companies’ bottom lines. But a recent series of contract defaults, bankruptcies, Sarbanes-Oxley controls, and merger-and-acquisition activity has placed credit-risk management squarely on the industry’s radar. Today, it’s clear that an integrated risk system that measures, monitors, and manages credit-related risk is no longer a Wall Street extravagance, but rather an industry essential.