Energy Information Administration

Not So Fast

Proving market performance requires detailed analysis.

Now that fuel prices have fallen recently from the highs seen in 2008 and wholesale electricity prices also have decreased, it might be tempting to attribute the lower prices to the restructuring of the wholesale electricity markets. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Smart Grid: A Customer Challenge

Consumers hold the key to technology’s benefits.

The utility industry tends to think about smart-grid development as a technical challenge. However, smart-grid technology will fall short of its promise if utilities don’t obtain buy-in from customers. Successful utilities will actively engage customers at every stage of implementation, customizing their approach to the sensitivities and opportunities in each customer segment.

Betting on Shale

Will unconventional gas assure plentiful supplies?

At the moment, the United States is experiencing a glut of natural gas with record underground gas storage inventories and prices around $4/MMBtu, which serves to underscore the new thinking about U.S. natural gas supply—i.e., future gas supplies might be less constrained than earlier studies suggested they would. Given the speed with which the expectations for U.S. natural gas have changed, it’s reasonable to ask how solid is this new thinking about U.S. natural gas supply and what should the role of natural gas be in meeting our long-term energy needs in a carbon-constrained economy?

Smart-Grid Strategy: Quantifying Benefits

Modeling the value of various technologies and applications.

As utilities announce new smart-grid programs, they need a strategic method for quantifying benefits. Analytical models generate baseline benefit estimates and reveal big-picture trends. Decision makers need the best resources available to mitigate risks in choosing a smart-grid strategy.

The Costs of Going Green

Carbon costs will reshape the generation fleet and affect retail rates.

American utility consumers face a compelling generational challenge: satisfy the need for a reliable power supply, at a reasonable price, while also reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and building a sustainable energy industry. How the government structures green-energy mandates will determine how long existing power plants remain viable.

Making Efficiency Cool

A new business plan for capturing big saving.

Historically, conservation has suffered from a fundamental challenge: it’s boring. But as efficiency becomes the first fuel, providers of efficiency services will begin to look more like businesses and less like government agencies—characterized by dynamic branding, with marketing strategies driven by customer science.

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.

Five Nuclear Challenges

Building reactors requires new federal commitment.

Several key barriers prevent the construction of a new U.S. nuclear power fleet. These barriers must be overcome to prevent a power-shortfall emergency.

Clear Skies for Gas

Unconventional sources brighten the U.S. supply outlook.

The future of natural gas supplies in the United States looks promising due to rising projections of recoverable resources, including unconventional production. A strong supply outlook bodes well for using natural gas as a low-emission transportation fuel.

Green Price Stability

New approaches account for the economic benefits of renewables.

Many green power customers benefit from long-term fixed prices. The most effective programs recognize the value of this price hedge—and fairly exempt customers from fuel cost adders in utility rates.