EPA, mercury and electric reliability.
The energy industry has known for decades that federal regulators eventually would set rules under the Clean Air Act to govern emissions of mercury and other air toxics from coal-fired power plants. However, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now having issued a final mercury rule, along with guidelines for possible extensions of the compliance deadline, utilities and power plant owners finally have a clear idea what they are up against. And the outlook isn't pretty. The challenge is to retrofit many hundreds of generating plants across the country--and all on the same three-year compliance schedule. Yet two wildcards remain in play: what deference the EPA will give to electric reliability needs, as it "consults" with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Council; and how effective FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff will be as Republican leadership in Congress works to derail the new rules.
Transmission cost allocation, the worth of the grid, and the limits of ratemaking.
A look at the issues that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must address concerning allocation of costs for certain high-voltage transmission lines 500kV or greater, planned for the PJM region, in the “paper hearing” on remand from the 7th Circuit federal court decision that rejected a socialized, region-wide sharing of costs among all utilities and customers across the RTO footprint.
Opportunity for advancement or exercise in futility?
The power grid has been slow to embrace renewable energy sources. In order to allow renewable energy sources to evolve into a solution rather than a headache, new tools and processes will need to be developed to forecast and control renewable production capabilities.
Commissioner Rick Morgan of the Public Service Commission for the District of Columbia based his article, “Rethinking ‘Dumb’ Rates”, on the faulty premise that there is a consensus, either in the regulatory community or electric industry, or both, trending toward the immediate adoption of smart meters and dynamic rates and, worse yet, that such change should be embraced now just ‘cause it is today’s pretty amazing new stuff.
Unconventional gas sources put a ceiling on future prices.
James C. Hendrickson and Dan Gabaldon
Unconventional gas and LNG are changing the outlook for future gas prices.
Ad hoc approaches will fall short when the workforce crisis strikes.
Utilities are headed for trouble. A critical shortage of skilled employees likely will worsen. And overcoming the workforce gap will require viewing it as a strategic issue, and taking a comprehensive, fact-based approach.
An expiring 40-year-old contract rocks the Pacific AC Intertie.
PacifiCorp informed FERC, PG&E, and the state of California that it would not renew the contract upon its long-anticipated expiration date of July 31, 2007. Instead, it would take back full ownership of its transmission-line rights and sell the available capacity into the open market under its own tariff at today’s going rate.
Billions in new revenue could be realized early in the transition.
In a hydrogen-electric economy, power companies could see very large market opportunities—and play a major role in enabling and accelerating implementation.
We are better off under restructured electric markets.
Howard J. Axelrod, Ph.D., David W. DeRamus, Ph.D., and Collin Cain, M.Sc.
The most important action regulators can take to minimize consumer electricity costs is, and will continue to be, ensuring competitive wholesale markets, while demanding a rich mixture of products from the suppliers in these markets.
Cal-ISO files a new market design, but has it traded efficiency for software?
Eyeing a launch date of November 2007, Cal-ISO at last has come forward with plans for revamping its widely disparaged wholesale market design. The formal proposal, known as the MRTU (Market Redesign and Technology Upgrade), was filed this past February at FERC.