In its March 2005 report to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) repeated its request for enhanced civil penalty authority. When Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT), it granted FERC all the authority that it had requested, and more. The new director of FERC’s Office of Market Oversight and Investigations (OMOI) called the new penalty authority “awesome.”1
Congress renews PURPA’s call for conservation and load management, but the world has changed since the 1970s.
The “N-word” in the title first appeared in this journal more than 20 years ago, courtesy of the celebrated environmentalist Amory Lovins and his widely quoted piece, “Saving Gigabucks with Negawatts” (Fortnightly, 1985). Scroll forward a few decades. With restructuring of wholesale electric markets at FERC, plus formation of regional transmission organizations and independent system operators, the game was changed.
Could local generators be used either to regulate voltage or control the power factor on distribution systems in New York?
Reactive power is becoming a hot issue in many regions of the country. Regulators and grid operators are grappling with ways to account fairly for reactive power supplies, and to encourage such resources to come online where they are needed. These analyses, however, are largely ignoring a vast fleet of infrastructure already installed on the network. West Point military academy, for example, has four small synchronous generators that are used for combined heat and power or emergency power applications. If these generators also were used as synchronous condensers, they might supply additional revenue to pay for the distributed energy investment.
FERC mulls rival plans at the last minute, while on the West Coast, California gets into the game.
FERC, the ISO, and many other parties had seen no reason for further debate over the need for a location-specific capacity market. By limiting debate, FERC had foreclosed a raft of competing ideas. When the moment finally arrived for the oral argument at FERC, attorneys and witnesses attempted valiantly in the precious few minutes allotted each speaker to flesh out new ideas, and the commissioners struggled as well to keep up. This highly unusual situation made for a helter-skelter hearing, with new topics seeming to come out of the woodwork.
Seven years after restructuring, challenges remain. Should the region stay the course?
Electric restructuring—identified in some quarters with Enron, California, and the August 2003 blackout—has brought significant, measurable benefits to us in New England. Seven years after restructuring began, it's a good time to assess the challenges that remain and gauge whether to stay the course toward continued restructuring.
While a few provisions are worth embracing, most of its 1,724 pages represent a waste of good timber.
After four years of legislative trench warfare, contentious legal wrangling, and heated partisan rhetoric, President Bush finally got what he wanted—a really big energy bill. What he did not get, however, was an internally consistent "national energy strategy." Examination of the legislation reveals that its title—the Energy Policy Act of 2005—is less descriptive than the title popularized by Sen. John McCain: the No Lobbyist Left Behind Act of 2005.
Can a single utility dispatch a regional grid system without a financial market?
Now comes Entergy’s pending plan to create an “Independent Coordinator of Transmission” to manage certain grid operations. On the surface, the plan would create independent accountability for the transmission grid, as called for in FERC Order No. 2000, with special attention paid to planning and expansion. Will the model work? Can it improve grid access for IPPs and reduce energy costs for Entergy’s ratepayers?
Does your company measure up?
Few companies achieve sustainable high performance. Markets change but companies fail to adapt, and investors are unforgiving. Utilities, and new entrants, learned this lesson during the first competitive market cycle of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when few companies sustained a high-performance leadership.
Why current estimation models set allowed ROE too low.
A material capital structure mismatch, which occurs frequently, can lead to material misestimates of the appropriate allowed return on equity, perhaps on the order of 2 percentage points. That is, a 9 percent estimate of the cost of equity can imply an allowed rate of return on equity of 11 percent.
Infrastructure isn't keeping pace. So how to "help" the market without killing it?
What's the right price signal to bring forth enough infrastructure to maintain reliability over the long haul? Moreover, if such a model exists, can it work without stifling competitive markets?