When the U.S. Patent Office published patent application number 11/626,810 in July 2008, few people noticed—at first. Soon, however, the metering-technology community was abuzz, mostly with outrage. If the Patent Office grants the patent and all its claims, other utilities would be legally forbidden from using any of the methods described, without first obtaining a license from the patent holders.
Laurie H. Duhan and Sheldon Switzer
Is development of retail choice compatible with best-priced standard-offer service for smaller customers? Conflicting policy priorities threaten to distort Maryland’s retail energy markets.
The PJM complaint and the rising cost of electric reliability.
Who says ratepayers must accept the traditional measure of electric reliability—a single one-hour outage every ten years? If shown the bill ahead of time, might they decide otherwise; that such luxury is no longer affordable? Consumers are making similar decisions about gasoline and mortgages. Why not electricity?
Green investments require bulletproof financing.
Originally developed to compensate U.S. electric utilities for regulatory assets rendered uneconomic by deregulation, so-called “stranded-cost” securitization techniques are finding new applications. To date, utilities have issued approximately $40 billion of stranded-cost securitizations. That number could increase dramatically if the industry applies well-tested securitization techniques to the extraordinary costs it faces in the future.
Wireless systems are improving front-line processes.
Electric utilities throughout the country are rolling out an assortment of mobile workforce solutions, many of which already are found in other industries. Three mobile workforce solutions recently were implemented at National Grid in Long Island, New York, FirstEnergy in Akron, Ohio, and Idaho Power in Boise, Idaho. Each demonstrates the state of the art in a different slice of the operations pie: power generation, distribution system operations, and customer service.
Scenarios depict possible nuclear waste futures.
Nuclear-waste management is a multi-billion dollar problem, and the future of nuclear power will depend on its resolution. Four scenarios depict possible outcomes and impacts on the electric power industry.
Rate caps have squelched competition in Pennsylvania.
The prolonged period of capped rates in Pennsylvania—years longer than in any other state—has produced some benefits and some drawbacks. On the plus side, due largely to the rate caps, electricity costs in the Commonwealth have fallen from 15 percent above the national average in 1996 to below the national average in 2007. This has been a significant benefit, but a temporary one that many have taken for granted.
Uncertain market design affects generation investment planning.
Mark Griffith and Keith Durand
Faced with state-wide electric utility restructuring and power-market deregulation, the state of New York constantly has been adjusting the state’s power markets to meet the potentially contradictory goals of low cost, yet reliable power. In New York this has taken many forms, including monitoring of energy prices, caps on capacity prices and forced divestment of assets to reduce potential market abuses.
New England shows the benefits of demand resources in forward capacity markets.
By Sandra Levine, Doug Hurley and Seth Kaplan
New England is leading the way toward a future that is both cleaner and provides greater electric reliability at reduced cost. New England Independent System Operator (ISO-NE) has created an innovative mechanism that addresses concerns about ensuring adequate energy capacity by allowing the cleanest and lowest-cost resources to be used to meet the nation’s power needs.
A comprehensive DR business case quantifies a full range of concurrent benefits.
The benefits of DR remain difficult to quantify. Building a comprehensive business case requires a shift in how policy makers think about DR in order to understand its real possibilities.