Fortnightly Magazine - November 2011
With looming mandates and aging infrastructure, utilities need regulatory support.
The balance of stakeholder interests in utility ratemaking has shifted over the past decade toward achieving social policy goals. A more sustainable balance is required if utilities and regulators hope to preserve utility service quality and affordability.
Despite market turmoil, state commissions refuse calls for an ROE boost.
(November 2011) Our annual survey of rate cases shows that despite volatility in financial markets, state regulators are holding utilities to a high standard for boosting their returns on equity (ROE). The latest data is added to Fortnightly.com's exclusive online ROE survey database, the largest free source of rate case information anywhere on the Web.
1. ‘Policy’ Guides the Grid; 2. Carbon Not a Nuisance (Yet); 3. Gigabucks for Negawatts; 4. A MOPR, Not a NOPR; 5. Ramp Up the Frequency; 6. Cap-and-Trade Still Lives; 7. Cyber Insecurity; 8. Korridor Killer; 9. The Burden Not Shared; 10. Ozone Can Wait.
How we got here and what to expect.
New air quality regulations, including the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, have prompted substantial investments in emission control upgrades. But a series of additional standards—for mercury, toxins, cooling water and ash residue—are driving delays and shutdowns in the coal-fired power fleet. Investment decisions depend on a clear understanding of where EPA is headed, and how the new regulations will affect generators’ costs—and market prices.
Has the Supreme Court frozen climate change litigation?
The Supreme Court’s decision in American Electric Power v. Connecticut strongly limits private nuisance actions against greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters by keeping these cases out of federal court. But the AEP decision won’t stop lawmakers from enacting new GHG regulations, and it won’t prevent plaintiffs from suing emitters in state courts.
From EPAct to Order 1000, siting authority continues evolving.
Six years after Congress granted FERC “backstop” siting authority for electric transmission projects in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the regulatory landscape is still evolving as a result of federal court decisions and new FERC orders. But despite a lack of certainty at the federal level, project sponsors have filed numerous applications at the state level for new transmission projects. Can these projects proceed without greater certainty at FERC?
Distribution management at the smart grid frontier.
The hype over smart grid has become focused on the idea of “advanced distribution management systems” (ADMS). But so far, few utilities have implemented ADMS beyond pilots and incremental tests. Fortnightly analyzes the technology trends and profiles examples of true ADMS in action.
(November 2011) Hitachi Power Systems America wins contract from Westar Energy; City of Fort Collins selects Elster, Siemens Energy, eMeter and Tropos GridCom to provide systems for its AMI project; Energate to supply smart thermostats for Oklahoma Gas & Electric; Jackson Municipal Electric Department selects Survalent Technology for a new SCADA system; Eastern Nebraska Public Power District Consortium selects ABB to implement an advanced smart grid-based SCADA; plus announcements and contracts involving EnerSys, S&C Electric, Siemens and others.