The Queue Quandary

Why developers today are often kept waiting to get projects ok’d to connect to the grid.

Late last year FERC learned that the Midwest regional grid likely would require at least 40 years — until 2050 — simply to clear its backlog of proposed gen projects awaiting a completed interconnection agreement to certify their compatibility with the interstate power grid. But grid engineers would meet that date only by shortening the process and studying multiple projects simultaneously in clusters. To apply the process literally, studying one project at a time, as envisioned by current rules, the Midwest reportedly would need 300-plus years to clear its project queue.

California: Mandating Demand Response

California’s load-management experience argues for formal DR standards

California hopes to reap $3 billion in benefits from demand response over the next 20 years. Maximizing the potential may require the California Energy Commission to exert its statutory authority. CEC’s chair co-authors.

California's Green Gaffe

Some green-energy policies disregard the value of energy use, risking market distortion and consumer backlash.

Policy mandates might erode public support for green-energy efforts, even in an environmentally conscious state like California, by frustrating consumer demands instead of allowing them to be fulfilled more efficiently. Recognizing real consumer value will help policy makers develop economically rational green-energy regulation.

Demand-Side Dreams

FERC would relax price caps—sending rates skyward—to encourage customers to curtail loads.

About four months ago, at a conference at Stanford University’s Center for International Development, the economist and utility industry expert Frank Wolak turned heads with a not-so-new but very outrageous idea.

When the Price Is Right

How to measure hedging effectiveness and regulatory policy.

Hedging programs promise protection against energy-market price spikes, and they can be important to the regulatory goal of sustainable, lowest long-term service cost. But how much price protection is enough in natural-gas markets? What is the most efficient use of risk capital when hedging energy supplies?

A Consuming Passion

Ratepayer advocate Michael Shames has been fighting utilities for a quarter century.

Calling himself the “world’s greatest consumer,” utility watchdog Michael Shames helped in 1981 to create the Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN), where he has served as executive director since 1985. That may make Shames one of, if not the longest-serving ratepayer advocates in the country.

Greening the Grid

Can markets co-exist with renewable mandates?

Part way through the Feb. 27 conference on electric competition, it was so quiet you could hear a hockey puck slide across the ice. No, hell had not frozen over. Rather, it was Commissioner Marc Spitzer, who had found a clever story to ease the tension and allay fears that FERC somehow might want to undo the sins of the past, and give up its dream of workable markets for wholesale power.

The Mobile-Sierra Doctrine, Part Deux

A new twist on an old doctrine.

The D.C. Circuit once observed that the Mobile-Sierra doctrine is “refreshingly simple.” In fact, however, the doctrine has become incredibly nuanced and complex over time. In two concurrently issued decisions, the court has discovered new prerequisites to the initial application of the doctrine, changed the independent “public interest” review standard into a presumption, and has jettisoned that presumption entirely when contract prices are too high as opposed to too low.

Demand Response: The Missing Link

Everyone is in favor of more demand response, but little gets delivered when system operators need it the most.

Despite overwhelming theoretical and empirical evidence, we aren’t seeing more DR when it is needed most—during emergency periods. The reasons boil down to two obstacles, both of which must be addressed before widespread DR implementation can move forward.