Fortnightly Magazine - February 2011
Northeastern politicians declare war on capacity auctions.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in February signed into law a bill that will have the state commissioning construction of 2,000 MW of new gas-fired power capacity and dumping it into the PJM capacity market at a $0 price. Maryland is considering a similar capacity-dumping scheme. What’s behind these efforts to manipulate capacity auctions — regional constraints or local politics?
Could a TVA-style Fed Corp model be the answer to America’s ongoing nuclear waste dilemma? A bill sponsored by the new Senate Energy Committee chairman proposes to create just such a corporation. Constellation’s Henry (Brew) Barron discusses the proposal — and its prospects for enactment in the current political environment.
Solar and wind developers learn to shift project risk to the grid.
As Google says, “the wind cries for transmission.” But the opposite is true as well: without new wind and solar energy projects, we would not need to build so many new transmission lines. Each side needs the other, yet neither dares declare too soon, and risk weakening its bargaining position. That is, until one utility in California found a way to break the impasse, with each side scratching the other’s back — thus putting to rest the age-old question, “Which came first, the . . . ?”
Raising the stakes in RTO markets.
Generators and demand-response providers are reaping rewards in forward capacity auctions, causing suppliers to go shopping for the most lucrative markets. Now the Midwest ISO is trying to catch up, by proposing its own auction for years-ahead resource bids. But does RTO shopping serve the interests of customers, who are legally entitled to rates that are just and reasonable? Why are some state policy makers advocating a return to old-school RFPs for long-term contracts?
Past accomplishments and future plans.
Policy makers in the E.U. and the United States are taking different approaches to facilitating smart grid development. While both regions are setting standards that the rest of the world likely will follow, they also face difficult challenges in resolving issues around cost recovery, customer engagement and workforce preparedness.
Smart solutions for distributed renewables.
The goal of implementing a distribution management system (DMS) is to upgrade isolated, hands-on grid management processes into an interconnected and automated platform. This technology is transforming the way utilities operate distribution networks, and setting the industry on a path toward seamless integration of distributed resources—both supply and demand.
Advanced systems turn ‘event-driven’ binary schemes into hybrid hierarchical controls.
Advanced distribution management systems (DMS) are providing unprecedented levels of control and efficiency. With greater knowledge about system loading and status, utilities can better make investment decisions—and operators will be better able to keep the lights on as the power system evolves.
SMS offers an alternative to paper billing. Smart Meters Driving Adoption Customer Engagement Supporting the Payment Process Learning from Europe
Text messaging promises benefits in customer service and bill-payment efficiencies. Utilities have been slow to take up the opportunities, but successes in other industries and among European utilities is opening the door to SMS transactions for American power companies.