Chasing the Uncatchable

Why trying to fix mandatory capacity markets is like trying to win a game of Whack-A-Mole (Parts I & II)

FERC has little to show for more than a decade of tinkering with mandatory capacity markets.

FERC Chasing the Uncatchable

Trying to fix mandatory capacity markets like trying to win at Whack-A-Mole, Part II

The proposals do not mandate participation in mandatory auction markets, much less try to set artificial floors on seller bids.

The Long and Short of Grid Congestion

FTRs make hedging possible, but can PJM ensure full funding without playing favorites?

Financial traders believe PJM’s proposal discriminates since they are more likely to hold counter-flow FTRs.

Learning to Love Congestion

Competitive market problems and their implications for customers’ net costs.

In competitive power markets based on locational marginal pricing (LMP), the facts sometimes conflict with popular belief. Most notably: 1. When there’s congestion, the books don’t balance, and ratepayers always pay more than the generators receive. The difference is sometimes called “congestion cost.” 2. Congestion in a competitive market doesn’t necessarily increase ratepayers’ costs; and 3. Reductions in LMP are incomplete and sometimes misleading measures of economic benefits of transmission upgrades. These three facts and their implications should be considered in transmission planning, market design, tariffs, and system operations.

Bench Report: Top Ten Legal Decisions of 2011

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.

Capacity Roulette

Out of market means out of luck—even for self-supply.

When the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its so-called ”MOPR“ decision in April 2011, approving a minimum offer price rule (or bid floor) for PJM RPM capacity market — and then on the very next day did much the same for New England’s FCM capacity market — FERC did more than just prop up prices. Instead, it created a nightmare scenario for utilities that still own their own generation. These utilities, who choose to “self-supply” with their own plants, rather than buy capacity from either the RPM or FCM, adequacy rules, could now be forced to pay twice for capacity — if their own plants are deemed inefficient or uneconomic.

Capacity Contest

Raising the stakes in RTO markets.

Generators and demand-response providers are reaping rewards in forward capacity auctions, causing suppliers to go shopping for the most lucrative markets. Now the Midwest ISO is trying to catch up, by proposing its own auction for years-ahead resource bids. But does RTO shopping serve the interests of customers, who are legally entitled to rates that are just and reasonable? Why are some state policy makers advocating a return to old-school RFPs for long-term contracts?

Transmission Preemption

Federal policy trumps state siting authority.

In some states, transmission projects have slowed to a halt as regulators attempt to substitute their own need determinations for those of RTOs. The federal framework encourages cooperation, but Congress and the courts have given FERC clear authority over interstate transmission systems.

DR Distortion

Are subsidies the best way to achieve smart grid goals?

FERC has proposed that wholesale energy markets should subsidize load reductions with full LMP (locational marginal price), without deducting the customers’ retail savings. Such a policy could distort the market, and other solutions might achieve the same objectives more efficiently.

One if by Wholesale, Two if by Retail

Which path leads to the smart grid?

A fierce debate has erupted in the utility policy community, with battle lines drawn within FERC itself. In the effort to improve system efficiency, two competing alternatives stand out: to build the smart grid on large-scale demand response (DR) programs, or to build it around consumer behavior in retail markets.