New geothermal approaches bring massive resources within reach.
Low-temperature closed-loop generators promise huge growth in geothermal power.
New green mandates force portfolio planners to re-think their models.
Rob Cleveland and John Brown
Quantifying the impacts of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) on utility integrated resource plans (IRP) sounds straight forward—just add more wind, solar, hydro, biomass, etc., to the plan and everything should be good to go. The reality is not quite so simple.
T&D investments prioritize reliability and load growth.
A massive T&D system build-out is starting, but more needs to be done. Executives from Northeast Utilities, Pepco Holdings and ITC Holdings discuss improvements needed for reliability, capacity, security, smart-grid and demand-response measures, as well as accommodating wind and green-energy quotas.
A billion-dollar ‘gold rush’ could send grid rates through the roof.
Money may be difficult to come by for Wall Street financiers in these dark days, but apparently not for electric transmission construction—at least so far. A rash of recent orders from FERC shows that generous financial incentives remain available to companies seeking to expand the nation’s grid capacity.
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.
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.
Regarding "Transmission Rights Row:" While technological advances and the development of fiber optic communications was not foreseen by utilities companies when they executed easement agreements for transmission rights of way, the tremendous escalation of land values, especially near some metropolitan areas, may not have been foreseen by the easement grantors.
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.
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.