How much efficiency do ratepayers need—and utilities want?
When the applause dies down, the smart grid may turn out to be its own worst enemy. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) explained this irony in comments it filed in May, after the FERC asked the industry for policy ideas on the smart grid.
Utilities protect their balance sheets.
What a difference a year can make. Since September 2008, M&A has slowed dramatically as both buyers and sellers play a waiting game. So who will blink first?
Economic barriers complicate T&D modernization.
While enthusiastic equipment vendors and zealous environmentalists push for the comfort of mandated modernization requirements, more thoughtful industry stakeholders are seeking to develop a technically and economically rational approach to modernize the T&D network. The core of this challenge lies in making modernization a financially attractive investment and it has two essential ingredients.
Utility projects advance the state of the art.
Given this dynamic state of evolution, it’s not surprising that next-generation technologies are undergoing their own difficult transitions. This transition is exemplified by four high-tech projects being executed by four electric utilities: Duke Energy, American Electric Power, Consolidated Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. Their projects address different parts of the power-supply chain, and they’re taking different paths to secure financing and regulatory acceptance.
Modeling the value of various technologies and applications.
Ahmad Faruqui, Peter Fox-Penner and Ryan Hledik
As utilities announce new smart-grid programs, they need a strategic method for quantifying benefits. Analytical models generate baseline benefit estimates and reveal big-picture trends. Decision makers need the best resources available to mitigate risks in choosing a smart-grid strategy.
Who will oversee the industry’s cyber standards?
Darren Reece Highfill and Vishant Shah
Who will oversee the industry’s cyber standards? Effective security calls for a single organization to set standards that will protect the smart grid. The industry is struggling to reach consensus over authority, scope and funding for its new security apparatus.
Carbon costs will reshape the generation fleet and affect retail rates.
Steven Fine and Elliot Roseman
American utility consumers face a compelling generational challenge: satisfy the need for a reliable power supply, at a reasonable price, while also reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and building a sustainable energy industry. How the government structures green-energy mandates will determine how long existing power plants remain viable.
Utilities hurry up and wait to apply for grant money.
The American Recovery and Restructuring Act (ARRA, or the Recovery Act), signed into law in February, provides $4.5 billion in stimulus funding for programs aimed at “electricity delivery and energy reliability activities to modernize the electric grid.” This funding commitment, and swirl of industry and lawmaker activities since, has helped lift the smart-grid agenda out of the shadows of utility engineering departments and into the public’s broader view.
Renewables attract utility investment dollars.
New federal policies have opened the gates to utility investments in renewable generating plants. Some states, however, still make it difficult for utilities to put such assets into the rate base. Executives at Duke, OG&E, PG&E and Xcel Energy discuss challenges and opportunities affecting their renewable investment strategies.
NARUC decries conditions on states for federal grants.
Utilities are leaving no stone unturned in their search for ways to save electricity. Federal incentives will support new technologies and projects, but can those incentives overcome structural barriers that stand in the way of major efficiency improvements? Fortnightly's editors explore challenges and opportunities arising from the new efficiency mandate.