Fortnightly Magazine - July 2009

Smart-Grid Strategy: Quantifying Benefits

Modeling the value of various technologies and applications.

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.

Life After PUHCA

N.J. BPU enacts new rules to insulate utilities from holding companies.

When Congress repealed the Holding Company Act, it gave states greater authority to regulate utilities. New Jersey picked up the baton and enacted rules to protect ratepayers.

Ontario's Failed Experiment (Part 1)

Reliability declines after 10 years of incentive regulation.

After 10 years of incentive regulation, reliability has declined in Ontario. Regulators failed to enforce service-quality standards, and consumers are suffering as a result.

Tech Transition

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.

When the Dog Shivers

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.

People (July 2009)

Constellation Energy announced the promotion of Shameek Konar as senior v.p. for corporate strategy and development. Pepco Holdings, Inc. promoted Kenneth J. Parker to v.p., public policy, and will be succeeded by Vincent Maione as region president, Atlantic City Electric. DPL appointed Joseph Mulpas v.p., controller and chief accounting officer. And others...

Paradox of Thrift

Economic barriers complicate T&D modernization.

While enthusiastic equipment vendors and zealous environmentalists push for the comfort of mandated modernization requirements, more thoughtful industry stakeholders are seeking to develop a technically and economically rational approach to modernize the T&D network. The core of this challenge lies in making modernization a financially attractive investment and it has two essential ingredients.

Security vs. States' Rights

Will Congress dare to put local wires under federal control?

Congress hasn’t amended the Federal Power Act in any way that would change the status quo, and a bright line still separates the distribution business from the federally regulated bulk-power system. Pending legislation, however, might change that.

Fingerprinting the Invisible Hands

Opaque markets inflate power prices.

Secrecy is the norm in electric power bidding. This lack of transparency impedes an efficient electricity market. Bringing daylight to power markets would reduce prices and save consumers money.