Real-Time Control

Engaging customers will require more than TOU pricing.

Imagine a setback thermostat programmed at the factory that the consumer couldn’t modify. Who would want this device? You could give the customer a big enough discount to get her to accept the device, but she would be happier and you could save about as much energy if the customer could decide on the temperature and time settings.

Carbon and the Constitution

State GHG policies confront federal roadblocks.

So far, states have taken the lead in carbon-control strategies. These state actions, however, could lead to constitutional conflicts—as recent court battles demonstrate. Only the U.S. Congress can regulate interstate trade, so states must step carefully in controlling carbon leakage.

Federalizing the Grid

Renewable mandates will shift power to FERC but pose problems for RTOs.

A recent survey conducted by the U.S Office of Personnel Management and reported by the Washington Post on March 13 ranked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as eighth best of some 37 federal agencies in terms “talent,” and third in “leadership and knowledge.”

Stabilizing California's Demand

The real reasons behind the state’s energy savings.

In 2006, the California legislature and governor positioned energy conservation and efficiency as the cornerstone of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act. The Act mandates a 2020 statewide limit on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels. Compliance will be nothing short of Herculean: California will have to reduce per capita energy usage in a manner that accommodates continued brisk population growth and protects the state’s economy from economic dislocations and recessionary pressures.

Rethinking 'Dumb' Rates

Achieving the smart grid’s potential requires a revolution in electricity pricing.

Achieving the smart grid’s potential requires a revolution in electricity pricing. Smart metering and smart rates might yield surprising and beneficial changes in the U.S. utility industry. But capturing those benefits will require an intelligent and careful approach to implementing dynamic pricing.

Titans of Transmission

ITC and AEP jockey for the lead in building the grid of tomorrow.

On February 9, a group of the nation’s major grid system operators released a study estimating the nation’s electric industry sector needs to spend some $80 billion—more than 10 times the size of that portion of the Obama stimulus package directed specifically at transmission construction—in order to achieve a 20 percent retail penetration for renewable wind energy in just the Eastern Interconnection.

Transmission Incentive Overhaul

FERC’s ROE incentive adder policy sends the wrong signals.

FERC is offering incentive rates to entice transmission investment. But the authors identify serious flaws in emerging policy regarding return on equity (ROE) incentive adders. Determining whether and when ROE adders are appropriate requires a more deliberative approach.

The Pulse of a Utility

The market-to-book ratio is a vital sign of a utility’s health.

Like a physician with her stethoscope at the outset of a check-up, astute shareholders and directors should use the level and trend of a utility’s market-to-book ratio (MtB) as one of the first vital signs they monitor and as an ongoing and leading measure of a utility’s strategic health.

Riding on The Wind

Plug-in hybrids usher a new era for wind power.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) open a new intersection between wind power and transportation.

Ontario's Standard Offer

Financial incentives work, but beware potential pitfalls.

The province’s renewable program was vastly oversubscribed. But was it successful?