New green mandates force portfolio planners to re-think their models.
Rob Cleveland and John Brown
Quantifying the impacts of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) on utility integrated resource plans (IRP) sounds straight forward—just add more wind, solar, hydro, biomass, etc., to the plan and everything should be good to go. The reality is not quite so simple.
As green mandates tighten, utilities scramble to comply.
Mandatory renewable portfolio standards are becoming the norm. But after low-hanging green fruits are harvested, renewable power might get scarce. Many utilities will struggle to meet RPS requirements until lawmakers create stable federal policies and a national market for green credits.
Market forces are transforming the IOU business model.
As market forces transform the IOU business model, Apple’s iPhone provides a metaphor and possible example for the industry to follow. The iUtility will emerge as companies renegotiate the regulatory compact and reinterpret the traditional rate formula.
Regarding "Transmission Rights Row:" While technological advances and the development of fiber optic communications was not foreseen by utilities companies when they executed easement agreements for transmission rights of way, the tremendous escalation of land values, especially near some metropolitan areas, may not have been foreseen by the easement grantors.
AEP rekindles debate over grid pricing, but should the outcome hinge on majority rule?
You might have thought the Feds closed the book on any broad, region-wide sharing of sunk transmission costs—especially after FERC ruled last spring in Opinion No. 494 that PJM could stick with license-plate pricing (LPP) for transmission lines already planned and built. If you thought that, you weren’t alone. Of 25 transmission owners (TOs) in the Midwest ISO (MISO), 24 voted recently to do the same for their market as well.
FERC would relax price caps—sending rates skyward—to encourage customers to curtail loads.
About four months ago, at a conference at Stanford University’s Center for International Development, the economist and utility industry expert Frank Wolak turned heads with a not-so-new but very outrageous idea.
Green credits are maturing to become real, tradeable assets.
Michael Zimmer, Jason T. Hungerford, and Jennifer M. Rohleder
By displacing electricity produced from fossil fuels, renewable power plants produce two distinct products—commodity electricity and a set of environmental attributes (particularly avoided emissions). These environmental attributes can be packaged into a product called a renewable energy certificate, or REC, and sold separately from the electricity. As REC markets develop, key issues are being addressed regarding market interaction.
The complex financial analysis that has driven renewable energy investment has become the standard for assessing all potential electric generation investments.
Tax incentives, renewable portfolio standards, and the creation of renewable-energy credits and carbon constraints are no longer separate considerations when assessing renewable-energy projects. The convergence of these economic considerations will affect the value proposition for every potential generation investment in the United States.
As if carbon control were a fait accompli, gen developers skew the queue toward renewable projects, driving new policy on transmission pricing.
Now at last, in a region other than California, we can see clearly that renewable mandates and fears of carbon taxes have influenced the power-plant development cycle. Moreover, this effect is helping to drive policy proposals for the pricing of transmission service and the recovery of costs for grid upgrades deemed necessary to bring the new plants on line.
State regulators grapple with investments, supply planning, and structural issues.
The opposing challenges of higher gas prices and rising environmental concerns have put utility regulators in a difficult position: How can they bring rate stability while minimizing environmental impacts? At the same time, they are grappling with trends in consolidation, competition, transmission planning, and distribution service quality. Each state brings a different view of the changing utility landscape. For insight, Fortnightly brought together regulators from several states to discuss their plans and priorities for today and the future.