Frontlines & Op-Ed

What Happened in Maryland

State case has national implications for grid modernization.

Strict adherence to cost-of-service ratemaking led to what might be considered a Luddite decision in the Maryland PSC’s initial rejection of BGE’s smart-grid filing. More than 60 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that ratemaking calls for “pragmatic adjustments” to regulatory policy, toward the goal of sensible and effective rate orders. Delaying modernization doesn’t serve the aims of customer choice, conservation or electric system efficiency.

Letters to the Editor

(October 2010) AWEA’s manager of transmission policy refutes author Robert Blohm’s assertion that renewable power exacerbates America’s growing problems with frequency response.

Dividend Debacle

Investors get caught in partisan crossfire.

Investor-owned utilities get caught in the partisan crossfire, as candidates engage in a national food fight over tax policies.

Avoiding a Train Wreck

Fundamental issues set companies and regulators on a collision course.

Industry leaders see a disaster coming, as the need for infrastructure investments collides with the economic interests of utility shareholders and customers. In a shaky economy and a politically charged campaign season, proposals for new capital expenditures are certain to cause trouble. Avoiding the train wreck will require real leadership in finding compromise solutions.

Green Blackouts?

Increasing renewable generation threatens reliability.

An increased reliance on renewable energy could threaten reliability of the nation’s electric transmission grids by reducing the rotational mass and rotational inertia of on-line turbine generators, thus, reducing the capability of generators to respond to drops in voltage frequency. In fact, data collected from 1994 to 2009 for the Eastern Interconnection already reveals a drop in the grid’s capability (as measured in megawatts) to stop a very rapid drop in frequency — such as a drop of a tenth of a cycle per second.

Summer of Discontent

Smart-grid planners feel the heat.

State utility regulators begin to question the benefits of smart grid technology, and customers take to the streets in public protests and demonstrations to oppose installation of smart meters.

Nuclear YIMBY

Local communities welcome new reactor projects.

Visitors to Waynesboro in northeast Georgia might be surprised at local residents’ opinions about two new nuclear energy plants planned for that site; namely, they’re giving the reactors a warm welcome.

Getting Engaged

How to avoid a Texas-style backlash.

Is customer engagement more about damage control, or helping customers understand their options?

Cap and Innovate

An alternative approach to climate regulation.

Low carbon prices might not produce sufficient incentives for firms to innovate and reduce emissions in the long run. But relatively high carbon prices can be politically unacceptable and invite consumer backlash. Where’s the right balance? A PUC chairman offers an alternative approach to managing GHG emissions.

V2G Shuffle

Smart charging is just the start of the electric vehicle revolution.

Electric vehicles (EV) now rolling off automakers’ production lines are expensive and limited in range, but they mark a technological tipping point. By tapping into the smart grid, EVs promise to free transportation fuel from the physical medium—raising its practical value while simultaneously diminishing its cost.