Many in business back EPA, but the new Congress has yet to weigh in.
Could carbon taxes emerge in the election aftermath?
Since Obama won reelection, we must ask whether we’d rather have EPA cracking down on carbon emissions, or whether a legislated framework would be better for everyone.
For developers of renewable power projects, the regulatory landscape is always shifting. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, for example, added the option of a cash grant in lieu of an investment tax credit—a provision that was set to expire at the end of 2010, but that received an 11th hour extension during the lame duck Congressional session.
Barriers and breakthroughs to a smarter grid.
Technology is quickly making energy storage more economical and effective than ever before. But companies that wish to invest in storage capacity face a journey through a frustrating regulatory no-man’s land. Opening the gateway for storage to deliver smart grid benefits will require a more streamlined and coherent approach to regulating storage as utility infrastructure.
The New Tax Equity
With a shifting policy climate, equity financing for renewable energy projects is becoming more scarce. Real estate investment trusts (REIT) offer an alternative vehicle for bringing in capital from investors who aren’t seeking tax incentives. But restrictions and requirements make REITs a tricky way to finance power projects.
A survey of state policies on release of customer data.
The advent of smart grid technology has raised new and challenging issues concerning data privacy. Of course, data privacy isn’t a new concern for the energy industry, as utilities have always collected customer data, some of which is common to any business, such as contact and credit information, and some of which is unique to the energy industry, such as usage and demand data.
In the past few years, hype over electric vehicles reached a crescendo in the media and in political circles. The good news is that this hype spurred major investments -- both private and public -- toward R&D and commercialization that’s already starting to show results (See “The Hundred-Dollar Race” - left). The bad news, however, is those results haven’t yet translated into dramatically better or cheaper cars in showrooms, leaving first-generation EVs to compete against mature gas-powered cars with much lower sticker prices.
Incentives, staffing, and benchmarking in a tight economy.
In several recent utility rate cases, regulators have disallowed portions of utility compensation expenses, on the basis that difficult local economic conditions justify pay cuts. However, when utilities begin squeezing their uniquely qualified technical and management staffs, performance can suffer. Analysis Group authors David W. Sosa and Virginia Perry-Failor review experiences at several companies to show how an evidentiary approach will help utilities avoid disallowances of critical compensation for valued employees.
Second thoughts on transmission’s golden egg.
The electric utility industry offers up a wealth of ideas on how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission might reform its policy, adopted under FERC Order 679 in 2006, of granting financial incentives for investments in transmission line projects that ensure reliability or mitigate line congestion so as to reduce the cost of delivered power. Fortnightly’s Bruce W. Radford reports.
Unforeseen consequences of dedicated renewable energy transmission.
Achieving aggressive renewable energy goals will require building thousands of miles of new transmission lines, and these so-called “green-power superhighways” could bring major new sources of low-cost electricity into the market. But will those sources be renewables? Analysts Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling argue that with new access to distant wholesale markets, coal-fired generation would become more competitive than ever.