(June 2011) Duke and ATC team up to build transmission lines; AEP installs bioreactor to control selenium emissions; NextEra buys 100 MW of wind from Google; Ocean Power Technologies awards contracts for wave power array; Kansas City picks Elster; BC Hydro picks Itron; plus contracts and developments involving Tres Amigas, Ioxus, Opower and others.
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.
State GHG policies confront federal roadblocks.
So far, states have taken the lead in carbon-control strategies. These state actions, however, could lead to constitutional conflicts—as recent court battles demonstrate. Only the U.S. Congress can regulate interstate trade, so states must step carefully in controlling carbon leakage.
The real reasons behind the state’s energy savings.
In 2006, the California legislature and governor positioned energy conservation and efficiency as the cornerstone of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act. The Act mandates a 2020 statewide limit on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels. Compliance will be nothing short of Herculean: California will have to reduce per capita energy usage in a manner that accommodates continued brisk population growth and protects the state’s economy from economic dislocations and recessionary pressures.
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.
The complex financial analysis that has driven renewable energy investment has become the standard for assessing all potential electric generation investments.
Tax incentives, renewable portfolio standards, and the creation of renewable-energy credits and carbon constraints are no longer separate considerations when assessing renewable-energy projects. The convergence of these economic considerations will affect the value proposition for every potential generation investment in the United States.
A new law dampens coal-by-wire prospects.
Gary L. Hunt and Richard Lauckhart
A 2007 law essentially prohibits California utilities from signing long-term contracts for power, including those from out of state, unless they emit less than 1,000 pounds of CO2/MWh of electricity produced. While the law does not specifically bar coal-fired generation, the limit is set low enough to rule out all coal-power plants. A modern, highly efficient natural gas-fired plant barely would qualify. These measures, plus the new carbon-cap law going into effect by 2012, have sent utilities—large and small, private as well as municipal or city-owned—into a frenzy as they scramble to find alternatives to coal to meet their future demand.