Why the standard market design refuses to die.
Hold on to your hats. The vaunted and vilified “standard market design”, once thought dead and buried, has been resuscitated, with all attendant chaos and rhetoric, but this time in the guise of a new proposal under the code name “open dispatch.” This new construct, as remarkable in its way as Einstein’s theory of indeterminate space and time, declares that electric transmission, long seen as one of a triumvirate of unique and essential utility industry sectors (along with generation and distribution), is little more than a mirage.
Utilities place billion-dollar bets on infrastructure, but the deck may be stacked against them.
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
Something seems deeply disturbing about the utility industry these days. An almost palpable tension rises whenever the utility CEO is asked how he will build enough power plants to meet the skyrocketing demand for power. Some consultants predict that sometime after this decade the time will come when utilities won’t be able to build enough to meet demand, no matter what they try.
The industry must join a growing chorus in calling for new technology.
Steven Letendre, Ph.D., Paul Denholm, Ph.D., and Peter Lilienthal, Ph.D.
A growing movement to bring plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars to market has emerged, bolstered by the undeniable economic and national-security benefits that result from displacing gasoline with electricity. Also, our editor-at-large talks with Tesla Motors CEO Martin Eberhart.
We are better off under restructured electric markets.
Howard J. Axelrod, Ph.D., David W. DeRamus, Ph.D., and Collin Cain, M.Sc.
The most important action regulators can take to minimize consumer electricity costs is, and will continue to be, ensuring competitive wholesale markets, while demanding a rich mixture of products from the suppliers in these markets.
Policymakers are setting sights on new challenges facing utilities.
Utilities in the United States are heading into uncharted territories, and the regulatory landscape is changing accordingly. To learn what it takes to tame this new territory, we spoke with three FERC commissioners, a state regulator, and a Western governor.
Mixed signals leave developers wary of building new infrastructure.
Richard Stavros, Executive Editor
FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher gives mixed signals that leave developers wary of committing to investments in new infrastructure, given his clear desire to affect positive change, while appearing to argue for policy decisions that are politically safe but arguably inconsistent.
Critics say its new budget and business plan could simply duplicate the work of RTOs.
FERC granted formal certification to NERC as the nation’s sole ERO and reliability czar, making it inevitable that NERC would delegate the job of regional enforcement to its various regional reliability councils, already constituted. To understand why FERC acted as it did, turn back the clock nearly a decade.
Market prices send investors clear signals to invest in the most efficient means for producing electricity.
Higher electricity prices have drawn sharp attention to the design of organized wholesale electricity markets—particularly to areas where residential customers’ rates will increase because multi-year rate freezes are ending. Some suggest changing the way that markets set wholesale electricity prices, or doing away with competitive markets entirely and returning to government regulation of prices. They say that the design of the markets exaggerates the effects of natural-gas price increases and unfairly rewards generators that use lower-cost fuels.
Exclusive interviews with the CEOs of five regional transmission systems.
Exclusive interviews with CEOs at five regional independent transmission system operators: Phil Harris, at PJM; Gordon van Welie, at ISO New England; Yakout Monsour, at the California ISO; Graham Edwards, at MISO; and Mark Lynch, at the New York ISO.
Beware even the best of attempts at apportioning grid rights and costs.
Several recent complaints involving PJM and now at FERC pose fundamental questions on how regulators and grid operators should attempt to price and allocate grid rights and costs. Is the transmission network a public asset, with costs that must be apportioned on principles of equity? Or, rather, is transmission an instrument of commerce, to be priced so as to maximize trade?