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.
The Big Build will test the industry’s access to Wall Street.
The era of easily available, affordable energy rapidly is ending and our society is realizing that our energy infrastructure is severely inadequate to supply the energy demands of the future. The major issue facing the sector today is how to fund and deliver this new climate-friendly infrastructure, which is currently estimated will cost almost $2 trillion between now and 2030.
Will power plants get caught in ethanol’s food fight?
The debate over food vs. fuel never has been louder. Using corn to make the biofuel ethanol is perhaps the best known point of argument. Everyone is asking: Should the United States require a certain percentage of U.S. corn crops be turned into fuel in the face of global food shortages and exorbitant food prices? And what are the effects of diverting food croplands into producing fuel?
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.
Distributed solar modules are gaining ground on concentrated solar thermal plants.
Jonathan Lesser and Nicolas Puga
Photovoltaic technologies are beginning to appear more attractive than concentrated solar thermal plants. PV’s competitiveness is improving from technical and operational advancements, as well as significant commitments made by such utilities as Southern California Edison. In the long run, distributed central PV plants likely will gain a strong market position.
ERCOT’s February emergency suggests storage capacity is needed to support renewables.
ERCOT in February averted a blackout that could have become a disastrous defining moment for the windpower industry. This near miss can teach utilities and system operators valuable lessons about integrating variable energy sources into the power grid.
Wind deals promise brisk business for years to come.
(May 2008) Senators were voting on legislation to extend the renewable production tax credit (PTC) as this issue of Fortnightly went to press. But with federal tax support for windpower in a perennial state of limbo, is the current rate of growth sustainable? To find out, Fortnightly spoke with Andrew Redinger, managing director and head of the utility and alternative energy group at KeyBanc Capital Markets.
As president and CEO of ISO New England, Gordon van Welie has his feet planted firmly on each of two sides of a cultural divide. First, as a transmission system operator, van Welie must keep the lights on and the wires humming. At the same time, he must run a regional market—an ongoing experiment in freewheeling capitalism in an industry fraught with more long-term uncertainty than perhaps any other.
New gas projects help globalize the U.S. market.
Underground storage allows gas users and traders to hedge against price volatility. Building more capacity will help North America fully integrate into global gas markets.
Why developers today are often kept waiting to get projects ok’d to connect to the grid.
Late last year FERC learned that the Midwest regional grid likely would require at least 40 years — until 2050 — simply to clear its backlog of proposed gen projects awaiting a completed interconnection agreement to certify their compatibility with the interstate power grid. But grid engineers would meet that date only by shortening the process and studying multiple projects simultaneously in clusters. To apply the process literally, studying one project at a time, as envisioned by current rules, the Midwest reportedly would need 300-plus years to clear its project queue.