Free markets are not a fad.
By Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Half-hearted deregulation hobbles the forces of supply and demand before they can get out of the gate.
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.
The jurisdictional battle rages on, with FERC and EPA squaring off against the states.
Bruce W. Radford and Michael T. Burr
When Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays led an attack on the federal Springfield Armory in January 1787—the spark that ignited the federalist movement—he scarcely could’ve guessed that now, 225 years later, his spiritual descendants would still be fighting that very same battle.
A purposeful approach to setting energy prices.
Changes in regulatory requirements, market structures, and operational technologies have introduced complexities that traditional ratemaking approaches can’t address. Poorly designed rates lead to cross-subsidies, inequitable outcomes, and perverse incentives. An objective-based approach can better communicate costs to customers in a way that better serves operations and policy goals.
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?
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?
State regulators face mandates without consensus.
Lynne Holt and Mary K. Galligan
New federal and state policy mandates are pulling state regulators in many directions. The patchwork of regulations has created a new level of complexity for utility investment decisions and political risk for utilities and state regulators alike.
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.