More planning, fewer incentives, and a black swan on the horizon.
The transmission superhighway still needs major investments. Rate incentives were working -- until FERC started backing away from them. FERC should assert its authority more aggressively to promote the vision of a robust interstate grid.
Why deregulation is easy and reregulation is hard.
Even with convincing evidence that deregulation has failed to deliver promised benefits, efforts to restore public oversight face tough resistance. The reasons involve policy inertia—and blind faith in free markets.
FERC Order 1000 and the case for alternative solutions.
Elizabeth Watson and Kenneth Colburn
How FERC Order 1000 gives short shrift to NTAs (non-transmission alternatives) in regional system planning—while consumers pay the price.
Distribution utilities could become an important source of renewable funding.
Distribution utilities are well positioned to provide tax equity for renewable projects, but some state laws prevent it. Tapping the potential will require progressive leadership by utility executives and regulators.
Incentives, staffing, and benchmarking in a tight economy.
David W. Sosa, Ph.D., and Virginia Perry-Failor
In several recent utility rate cases, regulators have disallowed portions of utility compensation expenses, on the basis that difficult local economic conditions justify pay cuts. However, when utilities begin squeezing their uniquely qualified technical and management staffs, performance can suffer. Analysis Group authors David W. Sosa and Virginia Perry-Failor review experiences at several companies to show how an evidentiary approach will help utilities avoid disallowances of critical compensation for valued employees.
Unforeseen consequences of dedicated renewable energy transmission.
Roger H. Bezdek and Robert M. Wendling
Achieving aggressive renewable energy goals will require building thousands of miles of new transmission lines, and these so-called “green-power superhighways” could bring major new sources of low-cost electricity into the market. But will those sources be renewables? Analysts Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling argue that with new access to distant wholesale markets, coal-fired generation would become more competitive than ever.
Policy priorities for managing T&D evolution.
Timothy D. Heidel, John G. Kassakian, and Richard Schmalensee
A pair of myths is driving many investments today—i.e., America’s T&D system is falling apart, but the smart grid will save the day. A new MIT study reveals a more nuanced truth about reliability, efficiency, and plans for new technologies. The most effective policies and investments will focus on solving real problems and delivering tangible benefits.
Clean energy jobs will be gone soon, if America fails to commit.
America needs an energy policy today that will bring together our best and brightest, harness the limitless capabilities of our research institutions, and invest whatever it takes to ensure America’s leadership in clean energy technologies. The result will be to create billion-dollar industries and millions of new jobs.
Election politics portend painful cutbacks.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Whether it deserves it or not, the solar energy industry can’t count on continued government largess, thanks in part to the Solyndra mess. But in the end, Solyndra’s demise might be exactly what the industry needs to wean itself off heavy subsidies and become a mainstream resource.
Generators fight back against EPA’s new regulations
With a flurry of major new environmental regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is altering the power generation landscape. But will the new federal rules survive court challenges—to say nothing of next year’s national elections? Fortnightly's Michael T. Burr considers the controversy over new environmental standards. PLUS: Top Utility Lawyers of 2011.