How DG and microgrids change the game for utilities.
Energy microgrids have emerged as more than just a curiosity. The technology is improving, costs are falling, and developers are lining up to build projects. How will microgrids overcome the substantial challenges that stand in their way?
(November 2012) Westinghouse Electric names former Progress Energy Executive as president and CEO. FirstEnergy makes numerous executive changes and appointments; Pepco hires new general counsel; plus executive appointments and announcements at AEP, PPL, PG&E, ITC Holdings, Dominion, EPRI, SEIA, and others.
Utilities are enjoying some of the best financing terms anybody’s ever seen. Is the party winding down?
Conditions are ideal for utility financing—but not forever. Although interest rates remain low, policy changes weigh on capital structures.
Making room on the local grid for small-scale PV.
For the first time, perhaps, the electric utility industry may need to keep track not only of peak load, but also of minimum load, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reviews a proposal by the Solar Energy Industries Association to employ a new definition of minimum load under a new, relaxed threshold test that would govern eligibility for fast-tracking of applications by generation developers to interconnect new, small-scale solar energy projects to the local utility distribution grid.
Second thoughts on transmission’s golden egg.
The electric utility industry offers up a wealth of ideas on how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission might reform its policy, adopted under FERC Order 679 in 2006, of granting financial incentives for investments in transmission line projects that ensure reliability or mitigate line congestion so as to reduce the cost of delivered power. Fortnightly’s Bruce W. Radford reports.
Are merchant power assets overpriced?
By some measures, merchant power assets look like a bargain, selling for well below their replacement cost. But whether low prices signal a buying opportunity or a value trap depends on the outlook for electricity demand growth—not just in the long term, but also in the fairly immediate future.
Customers won’t join the team unless utilities make it worthwhile.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Are utilities ready to really engage customers, and get them to care about more than just whether the beer stays cold? Or will we turn our focus away from customers, because we don’t know how to engage them — or how to convert engagement into value?
Rate case risk in a climate of declining sales.
(November 2010) Data from 2010 ROE Survey documents the industry’s struggle to reconcile rate trackers and decoupling provisions in utility rate cases.
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.
Transmission cost allocation, the worth of the grid, and the limits of ratemaking.
A look at the issues that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must address concerning allocation of costs for certain high-voltage transmission lines 500kV or greater, planned for the PJM region, in the “paper hearing” on remand from the 7th Circuit federal court decision that rejected a socialized, region-wide sharing of costs among all utilities and customers across the RTO footprint.