State and federal incentives push utilities to invest in grid intelligence.
State and federal incentives provide the carrot for utilities to invest in grid intelligence. But regulatory and technological incentives are not enough without customer participation. Smart-grid policies will succeed only by focusing on customer needs and benefits.
ERCOT’s February emergency suggests storage capacity is needed to support renewables.
ERCOT in February averted a blackout that could have become a disastrous defining moment for the windpower industry. This near miss can teach utilities and system operators valuable lessons about integrating variable energy sources into the power grid.
A comprehensive DR business case quantifies a full range of concurrent benefits.
The benefits of DR remain difficult to quantify. Building a comprehensive business case requires a shift in how policy makers think about DR in order to understand its real possibilities.
A new theory on capacity markets and the missing money.
On Wednesday May 7, FERC will host a conference in Washington, D.C. that might prove extraordinary. The commission staff promises not only to review the forward capacity markets now operating in New England and PJM—each a story unto itself—but also to discuss a new rate-making theory that has come virtually out of nowhere and which proposes to help solve the notorious “missing money” problem.
Emerging capacity auctions offer limited but valuable risk-management tools for asset owners.
Fast forward to today’s partially deregulated electric power markets. Wholesale electric energy often is traded in various central markets, as well as among individuals in bilateral transactions. Wholesale electric energy prices largely are deregulated, and clearly, over the past decade, market participants have become adept at routinely charging much more than their variable production costs. This “rent extraction,” as economists commonly call it, can take various forms, and while the mechanism for achieving it can be complicated, the evidence is quite clear that today’s wholesale electricity prices typically are higher than the variable costs of most or even all suppliers.
Why developers today are often kept waiting to get projects ok’d to connect to the grid.
Late last year FERC learned that the Midwest regional grid likely would require at least 40 years — until 2050 — simply to clear its backlog of proposed gen projects awaiting a completed interconnection agreement to certify their compatibility with the interstate power grid. But grid engineers would meet that date only by shortening the process and studying multiple projects simultaneously in clusters. To apply the process literally, studying one project at a time, as envisioned by current rules, the Midwest reportedly would need 300-plus years to clear its project queue.
RTO markets aren’t living up to the promise of cheaper power.
Robert McCullough, Berne Martin Howard and Michael Deen
Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) have not performed as well as open wholesale markets over the past decade. RTO advocates want governmental intervention, but the best answer may be requiring RTOs to file system lambdas.
Modern approaches to system operations and forecasting make the most of variable energy sources.
Nobody disputes windpower’s variability; that’s a given. But modern approaches to demand management, grid integration and wind forecasting are making windpower more predictable and grid friendly. And technology companies are marketing a variety of equipment and services to support a growing base of variable wind capacity—sort of like a virtual Country Kitchen Buffet for the windpower picnic.
Nuclear power cost projections should incorporate fuel cost uncertainties.
Nuclear fuel cost projections typically consist of current reported costs that are escalated at the rate of inflation. These projections usually consist of a single estimate in each year. In the past, when nuclear fuel costs were low and declining, this approach was acceptable and may have even been conservative. But this approach is likely to understate projected nuclear fuel cost when nuclear fuel costs are increasing.
ERCOT utilities approach CIP compliance from varying perspectives
As proposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corp., the new critical infrastructure protection (CIP) standards charge utilities with identifying their own critical assets and related cyber systems. This approach allows great flexibility for utilities to apply the CIP standards to their particular situations. This will help ensure that their efforts focus on securing critical assets, rather than on complying with an overly prescriptive set of mandates that might or might not yield a secure grid.