Calendar of Events

Sep 29, 2014 to Oct 03, 2014 | Michigan State University, Lansing MI
Oct 01, 2014 to Oct 03, 2014 | Washington, DC
Oct 06, 2014 to Oct 08, 2014 | Los Angeles, CA

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Public Utilities Reports

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Renewable Reality Check

How solar PV could redraw the map for green energy and grid investment.

Bruce W. Radford

When Pacific Gas & Electric broke the news six weeks ago that it had signed a deal with Solaren Corp. to buy 200 MW of solar energy from satellites launched into geosynchronous orbit, the idea seemed almost laughable. Solaren’s plan is to catch unobstructed sunlight falling on arrays of photovoltaic solar panels deployed in the crystalline void of outer space, and then to convert the generated electricity into radio-frequency energy for transmission to Solaren’s ground-based receiving station outside Fresno. Welcome to the new renewable reality.

The Wind Watcher

Lori A. Burkhart

The search for the ultimate wind forecasting model got a boost at the end of 2008 when DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory began collaborating with a Portuguese research institute, INESC Porto, to develop a new platform for making such predictions.

Dealing with Asymmetric Risk

Improving performance through graduated conditional ROE incentives.

Francis J. Cronin, et al.

Unlike the majority of performance-based regulation plans, alternative design paradigms require less data, by instead allowing firms to reveal performance potential. In an asymmetric environment, regulators don’t have needed information, but that can be overcome with better models and incentives.

Seeing Green

Renewables attract utility investment dollars.

Michael T. Burr

New federal policies have opened the gates to utility investments in renewable generating plants. Some states, however, still make it difficult for utilities to put such assets into the rate base. Executives at Duke, OG&E, PG&E and Xcel Energy discuss challenges and opportunities affecting their renewable investment strategies.

The Efficiency Mandate: Storage Goes Mainstream

New business models make energy storage attractive.

Michael T. Burr

Utilities are leaving no stone unturned in their search for ways to save electricity. Federal incentives will support new technologies and projects, but can those incentives overcome structural barriers that stand in the way of major efficiency improvements? editors explore challenges and opportunities arising from the new efficiency mandate.

Paying for the Green Grid

Subsidies might not be the best solution for interconnecting renewables.

Jonathan Schneider

Supporters of renewable energy are seeking to socialize the cost of a new interstate highway system for transporting green power. But utilities and transmission owners will build or finance new transmission systems to serve economic demands. Policy makers shouldn’t pre-ordain the direction of industry progress.

Carbon and the Constitution

State GHG policies confront federal roadblocks.

Steven Ferrey

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.

Federalizing the Grid

Renewable mandates will shift power to FERC but pose problems for RTOs.

Bruce W. Radford

A recent survey conducted by the U.S Office of Personnel Management and reported by the Washington Post on March 13 ranked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as eighth best of some 37 federal agencies in terms “talent,” and third in “leadership and knowledge.”

Rethinking 'Dumb' Rates

Achieving the smart grid’s potential requires a revolution in electricity pricing.

Rick Morgan

Achieving the smart grid’s potential requires a revolution in electricity pricing. Smart metering and smart rates might yield surprising and beneficial changes in the U.S. utility industry. But capturing those benefits will require an intelligent and careful approach to implementing dynamic pricing.

Titans of Transmission

ITC and AEP jockey for the lead in building the grid of tomorrow.

Bruce W. Radford

On February 9, a group of the nation’s major grid system operators released a study estimating the nation’s electric industry sector needs to spend some $80 billion—more than 10 times the size of that portion of the Obama stimulus package directed specifically at transmission construction—in order to achieve a 20 percent retail penetration for renewable wind energy in just the Eastern Interconnection.

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