Five forces are putting the squeeze on electricity consumption.
Ahmad Faruqui and Eric Shultz
It’s tempting to attribute the recent slowdown in electricity demand growth entirely to the Great Recession, but consumption growth rates have been declining for at least 50 years. The new normal rate of demand growth likely will be about half of its historic value, with demand rising by less than 1 percent per year. This market plateau calls for a new utility strategy.
Large grids can integrate more wind—without major burdens.
Despite the variable nature of the resource, wind can be managed so that it will not impair the reliability of a utility system. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed a rule that would require changes to the way transmission service is scheduled, which would enhance the ability of balancing authorities to integrate wind.
Correcting misconceptions about load-management programs.
Lisa Wood and Ahmad Faruqui
Do low-income customers respond to dynamic rates? The answer is yes, and in fact such customers can benefit from dynamic pricing without shifting loads”contrary to conventional wisdom. A study co-authored by the Edison Foundation’s Institute for Electric Efficiency and the Brattle Group shows that restricting access to dynamic rates might actually be harmful to most low-income customers.
The Massachusetts Attorney General and the New England Electric System (NEES) have unveiled a plan to restructure electric utilities in Massachusetts (em "Consumers First."
The plan would allow all residential and business customers of investor-owned utilities to choose their electric supplier on January 1, 1998, and mandates that all customers receive a minimum 10-percent reduction on monthly bills. Existing purchased-power contracts would be honored, and approved utility investments recovered, subject to independent market valuations.
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