Independent microgrids are coming. Will franchised utilities fight them or foster them?
Sara C. Bronin and Paul R. McCary
Despite offering a range of benefits, microgrids are proving to be controversial—especially when non-utility owned microgrids seek to serve multiple customers. The biggest battles are taking place in the realm of public policy. But utilities that pursue collaboration rather than confrontation are finding interesting opportunities for profitable investment.
Securitization fails the test for financing environmental capex.
Utilities seeking financing for environmental upgrades should look to the markets for debt and equity, rather than trying to securitize those costs.
MidAmerican’s Topaz solar financing proves that bond investors have an appetite for green investments.
When MidAmerican Energy Holdings issued $850 million in bonds in February 2012 to finance construction of the massive 550-MW Topaz Solar photovoltaic (PV) farm, it raised more than a few eyebrows in the financial and renewable energy communities.
The New Tax Equity
David F. Levy, Sean Shimamoto, and Nickolas P. Gianou
With a shifting policy climate, equity financing for renewable energy projects is becoming more scarce. Real estate investment trusts (REIT) offer an alternative vehicle for bringing in capital from investors who aren’t seeking tax incentives. But restrictions and requirements make REITs a tricky way to finance power projects.
(April 2012) MidAmerican Energy awarded a contract to Siemens Energy to supply wind turbines for its 407-MW project expansion. American Electric Power began operating the 580-MW Dresden natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant. Duke Energy and ChinaHuaneng Group signed a three-year agreement expanding their research cooperation to include coal and carbon capture and sequestration technologies. And others...
With meters running backwards, utilities seek a niche.
As states implement renewable energy mandates, and as solar photovoltaic (PV) technology becomes more economical, the market for distributed rooftop solar is growing. As a result, various players are taking different approaches to finance PV development—from net-metered residential systems financed by third-party leases, to grid-scale, utility-owned projects. Fortnightly Contributor William Atkinson talks to some major players in solar PV finance and examines the implications for investor-owned utilities.
Does the lack of long-term pricing undermine the financing of new power plants?
J.P. Pfeifenberger and S.A. Newell
The PJM Interconnect’s Reliability Pricing Model generally has succeeded in attracting and retaining low-cost generation and demand resources to maintain resource adequacy. But sluggish demand and low prices have weakened the market for long-term capacity contracts. Suppliers aren’t willing to lock in current low prices, and buyers don’t want to pay more for future certainty. Is the market dysfunctional, as some state lawmakers suggest, or does the lack of long-term contracts indicate a rational balance of supply and demand?
The old rules don’t always fit with new commercial realities.
Glenn J. Berger and Cheryl Foley
To encourage billions of dollars of investment into America’s transmission grid over the next several decades, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is restructuring its regulatory policies to bring market-based solutions into the framework for planning, construction, and operation of new transmission lines. The recent Order 1000 is the most dramatic example of this effort. But as FERC has learned before, one set of rules doesn’t serve the financial and commercial needs of all market participants.
The consumer-centric smart grid and its challenge for regulators.
Charles J. Cicchetti and Philip Mause
Federal and state regulators play a critical role in the evolution of the smart grid. Lawmakers face a host of questions, from deciding who owns consumer data and how it can be used, to defining a new range of regulated and unregulated utility services and applications. How much regulation will be needed to manage the transformation to a smart grid? And how much regulation will be too much?
Lockheed Martin teams with Tendril; Pattern Energy 101 MW wind plant starts operating; Alstom to supply steam equipment to GWF plant; Siemens wins government efficiency contract; GE Jenbacher introduces high-efficiency gas engine; OpenADR Alliance forms; Better Place gets into San Francisco taxis; EnerNOC enters TransAmerica Pyramid; and more.