Abengoa and BrightSource Energy agreed to jointly develop, build, and operate what the companies say will be the world’s two largest solar power towers. GE began operating a prototype of what it calls the world’s most efficient high-output wind turbine. Hawaiian Electric Co. dedicated the new 5-MW Kalaeloa solar farm in West Oahu, Hawaii. And more...
Re-starting the Big Build calls for revisiting cost-recovery mechanisms.
As the industry resumes major capital-spending programs, utilities and their stakeholders are rightly concerned about the effects on prices. Traditional regulatory approaches expose utilities to risks and costs, and can bring rate shock when capital spending finally makes its way into customers’ bills. Pre-funding investments can provide a smoother on-ramp to bearing the costs of a 21st-Century utility system — but it also raises questions for utilities to address.
The consumer-centric smart grid and its challenge for regulators.
Federal and state regulators play a critical role in the evolution of the smart grid. Lawmakers face a host of questions, from deciding who owns consumer data and how it can be used, to defining a new range of regulated and unregulated utility services and applications. How much regulation will be needed to manage the transformation to a smart grid? And how much regulation will be too much?
(September 2011) Walgreens to install eVgo charging stations at 800 sites; Siemens and eMeter team up in Maryland; Glasgow muni installs Elster meters; ABB completes Mincom acquisition; JDSU acquires Quanta-Sol PV technology; Survalent installs SCADA system at tidal power project; PECO selects Telvent; plus announcements and contracts involving Trilliant, Sensus, S&C Electric, Navigant, Ernst & Young, PSE&G, Portland General Electric and others.
Solar projects are becoming hot investments.
With recent scale-up in both photovoltaic and concentrated thermal facilities, solar energy is nearing cost parity with wind and even some fossil generation sources. And with development models evolving to help companies manage technology risks, solar power has become an attractive investment opportunity—not just for tax-equity players, but also for utilities.
(February 2011) Silver Spring integrates Itron meters; PECO picks Sensus; AT&T and Elster sign agreement; PSEG Fossil selects ABB for a multi-phase controls project; Trilliant secures equity financing and wins Burbank ARRA contract; Navigant buys BTM Consult; GE acquires SmartSignal; plus contracts and announcements from Survalent, Mitsubishi Motors, AES Energy Storage and others.
Lockheed Martin teams with Tendril; Pattern Energy 101 MW wind plant starts operating; Alstom to supply steam equipment to GWF plant; Siemens wins government efficiency contract; GE Jenbacher introduces high-efficiency gas engine; OpenADR Alliance forms; Better Place gets into San Francisco taxis; EnerNOC enters TransAmerica Pyramid; and more.
Evaluating smart meters and public backlash.
After ratepayers brought a class-action lawsuit against distribution utilities, Texas regulators commissioned a study of the state’s new smart meters. The study explains why customers reacted the way they did, and offers insights into how the industry can avoid a Texas-style backlash.