How solar PV could redraw the map for green energy and grid investment.
When Pacific Gas & Electric broke the news six weeks ago that it had signed a deal with Solaren Corp. to buy 200 MW of solar energy from satellites launched into geosynchronous orbit, the idea seemed almost laughable. Solaren’s plan is to catch unobstructed sunlight falling on arrays of photovoltaic solar panels deployed in the crystalline void of outer space, and then to convert the generated electricity into radio-frequency energy for transmission to Solaren’s ground-based receiving station outside Fresno. Welcome to the new renewable reality.
New business models make energy storage attractive.
Utilities are leaving no stone unturned in their search for ways to save electricity. Federal incentives will support new technologies and projects, but can those incentives overcome structural barriers that stand in the way of major efficiency improvements? editors explore challenges and opportunities arising from the new efficiency mandate.
Subsidies might not be the best solution for interconnecting renewables.
Supporters of renewable energy are seeking to socialize the cost of a new interstate highway system for transporting green power. But utilities and transmission owners will build or finance new transmission systems to serve economic demands. Policy makers shouldn’t pre-ordain the direction of industry progress.
How to account for lack of strong price signals. A hard year puts deregulation to the test.
Catherine McDonough and Robert Kraus
The greatest benefits of time-of-use pricing come from avoided costs of peaking power and T&D capacity—but only if hourly retail prices accurately model the true costs of delivered energy, including scarcity rents. Restoring the missing price signals will encourage economic investments in AMI, conservation and system capacity.
A new theory on capacity markets and the missing money.
On Wednesday May 7, FERC will host a conference in Washington, D.C. that might prove extraordinary. The commission staff promises not only to review the forward capacity markets now operating in New England and PJM—each a story unto itself—but also to discuss a new rate-making theory that has come virtually out of nowhere and which proposes to help solve the notorious “missing money” problem.
RTO markets aren’t living up to the promise of cheaper power.
Robert McCullough, Berne Martin Howard and Michael Deen
Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) have not performed as well as open wholesale markets over the past decade. RTO advocates want governmental intervention, but the best answer may be requiring RTOs to file system lambdas.
FERC would relax price caps—sending rates skyward—to encourage customers to curtail loads.
About four months ago, at a conference at Stanford University’s Center for International Development, the economist and utility industry expert Frank Wolak turned heads with a not-so-new but very outrageous idea.
An expiring 40-year-old contract rocks the Pacific AC Intertie.
PacifiCorp informed FERC, PG&E, and the state of California that it would not renew the contract upon its long-anticipated expiration date of July 31, 2007. Instead, it would take back full ownership of its transmission-line rights and sell the available capacity into the open market under its own tariff at today’s going rate.
Can markets co-exist with renewable mandates?
Part way through the Feb. 27 conference on electric competition, it was so quiet you could hear a hockey puck slide across the ice. No, hell had not frozen over. Rather, it was Commissioner Marc Spitzer, who had found a clever story to ease the tension and allay fears that FERC somehow might want to undo the sins of the past, and give up its dream of workable markets for wholesale power.
Three challenges to federal authority from those unhappy with the status quo.
A look at how regulators, grid operators, and consumer advocates in Arkansas, California and Connecticut have posed challenges to established law and policy at FERC.