Carbon costs will reshape the generation fleet and affect retail rates.
Steven Fine and Elliot Roseman
American utility consumers face a compelling generational challenge: satisfy the need for a reliable power supply, at a reasonable price, while also reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and building a sustainable energy industry. How the government structures green-energy mandates will determine how long existing power plants remain viable.
Congress pours tax benefits into efficiency and renewables.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Of the many provisions in the bailout bill, few of them actually establish new federal policy. Instead, most just continue existing provisions that already were set to expire, and probably would have been enacted in some form—if not this session, then next session.
Can nuclear heat allow for low-cost commercial reclamation?
Deposits of unconventional fuels—both crude oil and natural gas—occur in geological environments with very low energy. The exploitation of these low-energy deposits/reservoirs will require significant external energy to replace that lost or never provided by Mother Nature’s handiwork.
Vendors battle it out while utilities await common communications protocols.
Uncertainties about smart metering goals are hindering efforts to standardize communications protocols and feature sets. While vendors battle over standards, utilities and policy makers are moving forward anyway—despite the potential for setbacks.
Will power plants get caught in ethanol’s food fight?
The debate over food vs. fuel never has been louder. Using corn to make the biofuel ethanol is perhaps the best known point of argument. Everyone is asking: Should the United States require a certain percentage of U.S. corn crops be turned into fuel in the face of global food shortages and exorbitant food prices? And what are the effects of diverting food croplands into producing fuel?
Web technologies are transforming the utility-customer relationship.
Thanks to the Internet, consumers expect 21st century companies to bring a sophisticated online presence. Utilities that leverage the interactive power of Web 2.0 will strengthen their positions in regulatory and competitive arenas.
Pilot projects clarify the vision of an intelligent utility system.
Pilot projects are bringing the future vision of the grid to life. Whether leveraging existing systems or rebuilding entire networks in a Big Bang rollout, new technology applications suggest an intuitive electrical network may not be far off.
State and federal incentives push utilities to invest in grid intelligence.
State and federal incentives provide the carrot for utilities to invest in grid intelligence. But regulatory and technological incentives are not enough without customer participation. Smart-grid policies will succeed only by focusing on customer needs and benefits.
In light of your prescient Frontlines column, “PURPA Redirected” (February 2008), I am curious of your insight. Is there a nexus between §571 of EISA and the demand response (DR) text in the pending FERC NOPR, RM07-19-000, “Wholesale Competition in Regions with Organized Electric Markets,” issued Feb. 22, 2008?
The latest ‘incremental’ policy changes might realign utility financial incentives.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Back in 1978, Congress passed an energy bill, the National Energy Act, including an obscure provision that seemed like an incremental tweak to U.S. energy policy. But eventually, that incremental tweak—the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA)—smashed through the gates of the vertically integrated utility construct. PURPA introduced competition into wholesale power markets in a way that fundamentally changed the U.S. utility industry.