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.
New regulatory frameworks encourage electric infrastructure investment.
Under business-as-usual regulation, electric utilities must file more and more rate cases to keep up with rising costs. New approaches provide for modest but stable recovery of costs outside rate cases, while providing ongoing regulatory oversight and creating strong incentives for utilities to efficiently manage construction projects.
But transmission planning, as we know it, may never be the same.
The recent landmark ruling on transmission planning cost allocation, known as “Order 1000,” and issued by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in late July 2011, could well produce an unintended side effect — the formation of regional compacts among states to identify needs and plan for development of new power plant projects.
Rational estimates lead to reasonable valuations.
When regulators grant changes to utility rates of return, they estimate growth on the basis of gross domestic product (GDP). But do utilities have any chance of growing at the same pace as GDP? The answer is no — with huge consequences for utilities and their consumers. With equity costs outpacing allowed rates of return, utilities aren’t being valued correctly. As a result, the industry risks falling behind other sectors in terms of infrastructure investments and technology innovation.
Basing energy policy on the tax-equity appetite of large corporate and banking entities doesn’t offer a long-term stable path.
The debate on climate change continues, and the yet the U.S. response has been stuck in a political debate between the Democratic and Republican parties. The prospect for meaningful legislation for cap-and-trade or a national renewable energy standard (RES) seems beyond reach at least until after the 2012 presidential election.
DC monitoring raises the bar for solar power plants
As solar generation systems grow in number and size, they will pose new challenges to the electric grid. Integrating solar energy calls for applying sophisticated monitoring and synchronization technology, to allow operators to keep track of operating parameters and ensure as much solar electricity as possible can be integrated into the grid.
Coping with rising profitability, a decade after restructuring.
With a recent flurry of gas pipeline rate investigations at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), many pipeline owners face the prospect of having their profits scrutinized to ensure their rates are just and reasonable. Understanding FERC’s approach will help companies ensure they’re not falling outside the zone of reasonableness.
FERC seems to say that states remain free to interfere with RTO markets.
Citing what it called “mounting evidence of risk” that PJM’s RPM capacity market could indeed “be gamed,” the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week OK’d most of the tariff amendments PJM had proposed to correct ﬂaws in its Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR), which allows the grid operator to mitigate or predatory, below-cost bids by suppliers who would sell generating capacity into the region.
Evolutionary directions for electric system architecture.
How will the technology and policy changes now sweeping through the industry affect the architecture of the utility grid? Will America build an increasingly robust transmission infrastructure, or will we rely more on distribution intelligence and microgrids? Scholars at California’s Institute for Energy and Environment analyze various scenarios to predict the possible futures.
What conservation potential assessments tell us about ‘achievable’ efficiency.
Regulators across the country are relying on conservation-potential assessments to guide their policy decisions. Models based on macroeconomic analysis, end-use forecasting and accounting measurements provide different ways to assess the achievability of conservation and efficiency goals.