Will unconventional gas assure plentiful supplies?
At the moment, the United States is experiencing a glut of natural gas with record underground gas storage inventories and prices around $4/MMBtu, which serves to underscore the new thinking about U.S. natural gas supply—i.e., future gas supplies might be less constrained than earlier studies suggested they would. Given the speed with which the expectations for U.S. natural gas have changed, it’s reasonable to ask how solid is this new thinking about U.S. natural gas supply and what should the role of natural gas be in meeting our long-term energy needs in a carbon-constrained economy?
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.
Modeling variables improves daily estimates of gas demand.
At what daily temperature do customers turn on their furnaces? Or more realistically, given individual behavior, over what range of temperatures do they turn on their furnaces? To estimate the current base for its customers, Columbia Gas of Ohio used daily demand and temperature data for the three-year period from April 2005 through March 2008.
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.
The intelligent grid cannot be achieved without energy storage.
Rick Nicholson and Nadav Enbar
While much has been written about the intelligent grid of late, little attention has been focused on the role of energy storage in achieving its expected benefits. Energy storage is an essential component of the intelligent grid. Energy storage provides greater grid integration of variable renewable energy resource output (e.g., wind, solar); improved system reliability via the provision of grid regulation services; and peak demand reductions and, in turn, deferred capital spending on new and upgraded transmission and distribution assets.
Metering potential and limitations for smart-grid design.
How far can smart metering take us toward creating a smart grid? While meters don’t support the highest-level smart-grid functions, they can provide significant capability when the metering system is properly designed to support the evolution to a smart grid. New technologies create opportunities to rethink traditional metering approaches and work toward powerful smart-grid capabilities.
State attorneys general target energy policy issues.
Larry Eisenstat, Fred Lowther, Bernard Nash and Divonne Smoyer
As energy issues take center stage in the policy debate, state attorneys general increasingly are using their political influence and legal authority to affect a wide range of areas—from greenhouse-gas emissions to siting and development of infrastructure projects. Working constructively with state AGs can help utilities avoid becoming targets of investigation and litigation.
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.
Utilities adapt to a shifting landscape.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
The U.S. utility landscape is more dynamic and uncertain than it’s been since Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse waged their infamous war over alternating current—and the results might be just as fundamental to the industry’s future.