The grid does not need a Marshall Plan for new investment.
We don't know what caused the Aug. 14 blackout, but somehow we know that our transmission system needs $50 billion to $100 billion in investment and upgrades. And utilities need higher returns to raise that kind of money. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons.
The reality is that we aren't short $50 billion or $100 billion in our transmission system. The study said to support that proposition just doesn't do the job.
A review of which technologies and companies stand to win and lose as a result of the 2003 blackout.
Mishap, human error, and malice regularly crash the electric system. We have lurched from the Western economic power crisis of 1999-2000 to the Eastern reliability power crisis of 2003. Neither more studies nor more blackouts have changed what's been built-an excessive quantity of large generation plants dependent on relatively few major transmission lines. On its current course, the grid's inevitable destination is disaster.
Rising gas prices spark a rush to wind farms, straining grid capacity and raising larger issues about market design.
When the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) was drafting rules to encourage the use of renewable energy, it took pains to guard against the chance that power producers would fail to reach the state's target of 400 megawatts (MW) in installed new renewable generation capacity by Jan. 1, 2002. The commission needn't have worried.
Goodbye to All That?
Even the volatility is volatile. And that can play havoc with hedging.
Jeff Skilling resigned from Enron over a year ago-after power prices in markets serving California had fallen 90 percent in three months.
But in July, Bank of America won approval from the Treasury Department to offer cash-settled electricity derivatives-with a former Enron regional director at the head of the desk.
So what has changed, and what hasn't?
Northern gas rush proves timely for power generators.
1 Also cited as contributing factors are the lack of long-term contracting, operating problems in the ISO and power exchange (PX) markets, and suggestions that owners of generation took advantage of the supply shortage and the design of California's wholesale power markets to exercise market power to drive prices higher.