Lori A. Burkhart
California has a plan to track green electricity, but can it be trusted?
All electricity is the same, but the California Energy Commission wants to change that. It plans a system to authenticate the source of electricity to allow consumers to buy power from specific generators. Standard documents called "Certificates of Specific Generation" would certify financial transactions. Presumably, the plan would help document the authenticity of non-generic electricity products, such as green power.
Rajat Deb, Ph.D.
Power plants can bid on more than one product. That's why most spark-spread studies miss the mark.
Forward energy prices can make it look easy to place a value on a power plant. Yet something is missing. Plants can sell more than one product. One price may be up while another is down. As Einstein said, a theory should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.
That is why it is worth reexamining the methods commonly used to calculate forward price curves and estimate the expected revenues and profits of generating assets.
Bruce W. Radford
The wires business goes up for grabs as California opens its landmark case on distributed generation.
Jay Morse has studied distributed generation for the past seven years. Today, as an engineer and policy analyst on regulatory transition and market development issues for the California PUC's Office of Ratepayer Advocates, he sits in the eye of the storm. Technology is busting out all over, says Morse, who calls himself the "godfather" of DG in California's electric restructuring.
Carl J. Levesque
Applications filed to date in New England and California.
New England and California are hotbeds of merchant plant activity, as shown by a list of proposed projects submitted for certification with the appropriate state agencies as of early November. In New England alone, some 63 projects totaling generation of more than 31,000 megawatts (and growing) were proposed. It is generally understood, however, that of the 31,000 MW of generating capacity represented by those projects, only 7,000 to 8,000 MW will be built.
Charles W. Thurston
Projects sprout in the United States and overseas, pushing the limits of grid capacity, turbine manufacturers and available sites.
Merchant power plants are emerging en masse to address the growing electricity needs of the United States and other countries, thanks to deregulation and fearless developers. While some plants are built to replace older, less-efficient utility-owned units, others would serve demand growth. Still more are planned as niche-oriented peakers - ready to supply the grid when marginal prices rise high enough. Ancillary services might offer another niche.
States earmark millions to fund solar projects via system benefits charges.
Making solar power a realistic choice for electric consumers is a burgeoning issue for state utility regulators. As part of electric restructuring, regulators are trying to finance the costs of solar installations.
Key to delivering commercial, on-grid solar power to new markets are state efforts, partnered with other government and industry actions. So far, the system benefits charge, or SBC, is the primary short-term incentive to develop solar, wind, biomass and other renewable resources.
Lori A. Burkhart, Phillip S. Cross and Beth Lewis
NOX EMISSIONS. Generating heavy criticism from industry, on September 24 the Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited final rules on nitrogen oxide emissions, outlining a plan to reduce NOx by 28 percent by year 2007 in some 22 states and the District of Columbia, with state implementation plans due by September 1999 and controls in place by 2003, to be carried out through a "cap and trade" program to buy and sell NOx emissions credits.
Darwin Subart was named assistant vice president, business development, of Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group Inc. Subart has served as the company's business development director since 1994.
Curt L. Meyer joined Peregrine Communications, a fiber-optic network provider, as a regional account manager. Most recently Meyer worked for Strom Engineering.
CMS Energy Corp. elected Kenneth L. Way to its board of directors. Way is chairman and CEO of Lear Corp. Way's election brings membership of the board to 11 directors.
Bruce W. Radford
NO MORE METER MONOPOLY?
So they say. Many believe that utility control over electric metering exerts a chilling effect on retail choice in energy. They claim that competitive energy service providers cannot earn a high-enough margin on the commodity alone, but must offer companion services - metering, billing and value-added options.
Yet the road to competitive metering is pitted with potholes. Utilities, ESPs and private meter vendors and manufacturers can be found arguing over a raft of issues.
Bruce W. Radford
CALIFORNIA IS AT IT AGAIN. THE SUBJECT IS NATURAL GAS. What the "blue book" promised for electricity, the newly issued "green book" says it will do for gas.
On Jan. 21, the Division of Strategic Planning at the state public utilities commission issued a new 125-page study, Strategies for Natural Gas Reform: Exploring Options for Converging Energy Markets. On the same day, the PUC opened a new rulemaking (R. 98-01-011), asking for input on the DSP report and posing its own list of some 25 questions on where to go with gas.