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.
Doing the right thing can drive utility stock performance.
Richard Rudden and Kyle Rudden
Utilities get little credit for their efforts to strengthen the sustainability of their businesses. But these efforts have paid dividends in stock performance, capital costs, regulatory relationships, and brand value. Capturing the greatest value for shareholders will require utilities to become better understood as socially responsible enterprises.
Barriers and breakthroughs to a smarter grid.
Technology is quickly making energy storage more economical and effective than ever before. But companies that wish to invest in storage capacity face a journey through a frustrating regulatory no-man’s land. Opening the gateway for storage to deliver smart grid benefits will require a more streamlined and coherent approach to regulating storage as utility infrastructure.
Renewable M&A lives on despite death of Treasury cash grants.
Brian Boufarah and Marlene Motyka
The U.S. Treasury cash grants for new renewable power projects expired at the end of 2011. These incentives, which were implemented under Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, helped to support continued capacity additions throughout the recession. The impending expiration of these grants caused a wave of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity during 2011 as developers and financiers rushed to get deals done and to begin construction in order to meet the Section 1603, 5-percent safe harbor threshold by the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline.
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?
(July 2011) Williams Partners L.P. expands Transco transmission lines; Google to provide fiber optic Internet service for Kansas City, Mo.; Constellation Energy picks Lynxspring Inc.; plus contracts and developments involving Servidyne, EnerNOC, Siemens Energy and others.
Unlocking value in the evolving energy marketplace.
Greg Guthridge and Michael Britt
Non-traditional competitors may pose a threat to investor-owned utilities. New research shows that real competition is coming from brick-and-mortar retailers, cable and phone companies, and online retailers like Amazon and Google. The competitive challenge calls upon utilities to strengthen customer relationships.
Burbank Water and Power selects Tropos Networks for smart grid project, Survalent Technology installs SCADA system for Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association, Gemma Power Systems signs contract with Bishop Hill Energy, American Superconductor selects subcontractors for the Tres Amigas SuperStation transmission hub in Clovis, N.M., and more ...
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.
Xcel Energy proposes to create America’s first fully functional intelligent grid, with communications and automation systems linking the network from end to end, power plants to meters. Although Xcel still is deploying the system, it’s shown that the early payoff from smart-grid investments won’t necessarily come from automated metering, but from automation in the distribution network—the “middle mile.” As chief architect of the Smart Grid City project in Boulder, Colo., Ray Gogel served on the front lines in the industry’s technology revolution.