Calendar of Events

Oct 20, 2014 to Oct 23, 2014 | Orlando, FL
Oct 27, 2014 to Oct 31, 2014 | Clearwater Beach, FL
Nov 05, 2014 to Nov 06, 2014 | Las Vegas, Nevada

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Public Utilities Reports

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FERC

Green Transition

Integrating distributed resources into the smart grid.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The remedy for America’s gravest economic woes may lie in a smart grid that can deliver vast amounts of clean, renewable energy while enhancing our energy security and democratizing our energy system. Although regulatory questions and technical challenges might dominate the industry’s short-term focus, the smart grid’s driving forces parallel America’s long-term national interests — a fact that should guide ongoing technology strategies and investment decisions.

Treading Water

With no guidance yet from FERC, Atlantic Wind is forced to wait.

Bruce W. Radford

Touted as the nation’s first-ever “offshore transmission highway,” the proposed Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) high-voltage power line in theory could foster dozens of wind farms in shallow offshore costal waters up and down the mid-Atlantic seaboard — but only if federal regulators can get buy-in for new transmission planning rules that give precedence to large, macro projects aimed at boosting renewable energy. Otherwise, the grid project might never pass muster with the engineers charged with OK’ing new power lines, since the AWC is probably not needed to maintain reliability, and likely would not make electricity rates any cheaper for East Coast ratepayers. Should wind energy developers start with massive grid projects to attract clusters of wind turbines, or should the wind farms come first?

Balance of Power

Large grids can integrate more wind—without major burdens.

Richard Lauckhart

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.

A Buyer's Market

Getting the most from demand response—despite a flawed FERC rule.

Constantine Gonatas

FERC’s new rule on compensation for demand resources tips the market balance toward negawatts. Arguably the commission’s economic analysis is flawed, and the rule represents a covert policy decision that stretches federal authority. Nevertheless, economic benefits will result if DR programs are well implemented to avoid gaming the system and distorting the market.

A Beautiful Mess

Only the fittest solutions survive in America’s policy wilderness.

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

All things being equal, momentous events like the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Arab spring would bring fundamental changes in U.S. energy policy. But things aren’t equal, and they never will be under America’s democratic and capitalistic process. Frustrating? Maybe, but it’s the only way to ensure our decisions are based on sound economic and environmental principles.

States' Rights, Gamed Markets

FERC OK's PJM's capacity price floor, but questions remain about 'legitimate interests.'

FERC seems to say that states remain free to interfere with RTO markets.

Citing what it called “mounting evidence of risk” that PJM’s RPM capacity market could indeed “be gamed,” the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week OK’d most of the tariff amendments PJM had proposed to correct flaws in its Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR), which allows the grid operator to mitigate or predatory, below-cost bids by suppliers who would sell generating capacity into the region.

Making Solar Grid-Friendly

If made fully “grid-friendly,” utility-scale solar ought to be able to act like a traditional power plant — aiding voltage stability and supporting grid integrity during transmission system disturbances.

The world’s power generation systems continue to transition to cleaner, more renewable and sustainable sources. That effort will be greatly aided by integrated and comprehensive grid interconnection solutions. Utility-scale, grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV), as well as wind, has become increasingly attractive as a generation resource, both in terms of economics and operational fl exibility.

Vendor Neutral

(April 2011) GE Hitachi and Lockheed Martin team up on nuclear reactor controls; Elster wins metering contract in New Hampshire; Xcel hires Bechtel for nuclear services in Minnesota; Mitsubishi builds transformer HQ in Memphis; Northeast Utilities taps Siemens for transmission projects; Iberdrola sells wind output to FirstEnergy; Consumers and DTE invest $400 million to upgrade pumped storage facility; plus contracts and announcements from Alstom, URS, Areva, groSolar, Pattern Energy, S&C Electric and others.

Tax Burdens and Barriers

Where tax rates are too high, grid investments suffer.

James M. Seibert

As the industry works to modernize the national T&D infrastructure, utilities are investing dollars that ultimately increase their cost of service—and therefore end-use prices. To cover their investments, many companies are taking a close look at their tax-management policies.

Deal Friction

Why the green grid might do better without open access.

Bruce W. Radford

Are the Feds at war with green power development? You might have thought so, if you had sat through the conference held March 15, 2011, at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where the consensus seemed to be that FERC’s policy of granting open-access rights on electric transmission lines is problematic for green power projects. In short, when wind and solar developers choose to build their own local tie lines to link their projects to the larger grid, FERC policy forces them to make extra line capacity available to rival developers. That requirement doomed the novel Wind Spirit Project, and continues to complicate the job of project financing.

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