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.
Independent microgrids are coming. Will franchised utilities fight them or foster them?
Sara C. Bronin and Paul R. McCary
Despite offering a range of benefits, microgrids are proving to be controversial—especially when non-utility owned microgrids seek to serve multiple customers. The biggest battles are taking place in the realm of public policy. But utilities that pursue collaboration rather than confrontation are finding interesting opportunities for profitable investment.
Distribution utilities could become an important source of renewable funding.
Distribution utilities are well positioned to provide tax equity for renewable projects, but some state laws prevent it. Tapping the potential will require progressive leadership by utility executives and regulators.
Does the lack of long-term pricing undermine the financing of new power plants?
J.P. Pfeifenberger and S.A. Newell
The PJM Interconnect’s Reliability Pricing Model generally has succeeded in attracting and retaining low-cost generation and demand resources to maintain resource adequacy. But sluggish demand and low prices have weakened the market for long-term capacity contracts. Suppliers aren’t willing to lock in current low prices, and buyers don’t want to pay more for future certainty. Is the market dysfunctional, as some state lawmakers suggest, or does the lack of long-term contracts indicate a rational balance of supply and demand?
Clean energy jobs will be gone soon, if America fails to commit.
America needs an energy policy today that will bring together our best and brightest, harness the limitless capabilities of our research institutions, and invest whatever it takes to ensure America’s leadership in clean energy technologies. The result will be to create billion-dollar industries and millions of new jobs.
Northeastern politicians declare war on capacity auctions.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in February signed into law a bill that will have the state commissioning construction of 2,000 MW of new gas-fired power capacity and dumping it into the PJM capacity market at a $0 price. Maryland is considering a similar capacity-dumping scheme. What’s behind these efforts to manipulate capacity auctions — regional constraints or local politics?
In-state green mandates face Constitutional challenges.
By Richard Lehfeldt, Woody N. Peterson, and David T. Schur
In effort to promote local green energy resources, some states are enacting policies that tread on federal authority. Restrictions on power imports to satisfy RPS requirements might violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Can the states foster home-grown energy without running afoul of federal laws?
Synchronizing networks to bring green power to market.
In order to fully integrate wind and other dispersed sources of energy into the system, America’s patchwork transmission networks need to be more closely interconnected and synchronized. An advocate for the Tres Amigas merchant transmission project explains how the proposed facility will integrate the grid.
California defends its cogen feed-in tariff—complete with its own virtual carbon tax.
California’s new feed-in tariff (FIT) is creating a burgeoning market for green energy investments, but the policy has sparked a fierce battle over state authority to dictate wholesale power transactions. A federal case will determine whether the 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act pre-empts states from requiring purchases that exceed utilities’ avoided cost.
Constitutional questions about state-mandated renewable tariffs.
Despite state efforts to follow the European model of state-mandated feed-in tariffs to promote renewable power, these actions won’t pass Constitutional muster. The Supremacy Clause makes a formidable legal barrier.