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.
A new theory on capacity markets and the missing money.
On Wednesday May 7, FERC will host a conference in Washington, D.C. that might prove extraordinary. The commission staff promises not only to review the forward capacity markets now operating in New England and PJM—each a story unto itself—but also to discuss a new rate-making theory that has come virtually out of nowhere and which proposes to help solve the notorious “missing money” problem.
Fickle behavior by LSEs threatens to destabilize organized markets.
Dodging capacity payments might become an art form among load-serving entities and large electric consumers, as evidenced by Duquesne’s plan to exit PJM, as well as alternative market-designs proposed by large users. But such behaviors might only serve to disrupt organized markets and cause a return to full regulation.
Enforcement trends call for a proactive approach to complying with market rules.
Federal regulators have penalized wholesale energy market participants with fines ranging from $300 thousand to $300 million over the past two years. The magnitude of the penalties, along with uncertainty over how to effectively mitigate the risk of any civil action by regulators, has raised concern about how companies are approaching their regulatory obligations.