Itron deploys meter modules throughout Black Hills territory; Siemens to supply gas turbine packages to Mississippi Power; Cisco acquires Arch Rock for IP-based wireless smart metering applications; eMeter closes $12.5 million private-equity round; Enspiria helps NV Energy secure approvals for smart grid plan; American Superconductor invests in wind-turbine blade manufacturer; DOE selects 22 carbon-capture and storage projects for R&D funding; Petra Solar wins Sandia matching grant; plus announcements from Johnson Controls, Tantalus, Cooper Power, ComEd, UISOL, Convergys, SOLON and more
Utility deals resume after 18 months of austerity.
Utilities are taking advantage of a sweet spot in the capital markets, pre-funding and refinancing at record low rates. But cheap money won’t resolve overhanging uncertainties preventing cap-ex projects and M&A deals. Greater certainty in America’s economic and policy outlook will clear a path for strategic change.
The entire utility-consumer relationship must be reengineered.
The business case for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) can’t be justified alone on operational savings to the utility. But critical assumptions involving process improvements and system efficiencies depend on customer involvement. This sequel to a September 2009 article examines customer engagement strategies and techniques.
California defends its cogen feed-in tariff—complete with its own virtual carbon tax.
California’s new feed-in tariff (FIT) is creating a burgeoning market for green energy investments, but the policy has sparked a fierce battle over state authority to dictate wholesale power transactions. A federal case will determine whether the 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act pre-empts states from requiring purchases that exceed utilities’ avoided cost.
An alternative approach to climate regulation.
Low carbon prices might not produce sufficient incentives for firms to innovate and reduce emissions in the long run. But relatively high carbon prices can be politically unacceptable and invite consumer backlash. Where’s the right balance? A PUC chairman offers an alternative approach to managing GHG emissions.
Getting realistic about energy efficiency.
Is energy efficiency the answer to all our energy problems? The solution is more complicated than the hype would suggest. Only a practical approach can overcome barriers to capturing efficiency savings as a sustainable resource.
Opportunity for advancement or exercise in futility?
The power grid has been slow to embrace renewable energy sources. In order to allow renewable energy sources to evolve into a solution rather than a headache, new tools and processes will need to be developed to forecast and control renewable production capabilities.
Technology advances despite a political conflict.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Opinion polls show that Americans are growing tired of eco-nannyism. This isn’t a new trend, but on February 7 it went prime-time, during the biggest TV event of the year: Superbowl XLIV.
The importance of getting the REC markets right.
Daniel P. Krueger and Andre Begosso
The feds are ready to replace disjointed state policies with a coordinated national renewable energy credit market. Treating low-carbon energy consistently will promote investment in renewables.
FERC fights for the green-grid superhighway—even if Congress won’t.
The Senate’s deadlock over carbon cap-and-trade legislation has not deterred FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff from an agenda bent on promoting renewable energy and fighting climate change. Last fall, even as Congress dithered, FERC launched a landmark initiative that likely will lead to sweeping new rules for expanding the nation’s electric transmission grid, grounded on Wellinghoff’s belief in wind, solar, and green power resources.