How software controls can bridge the gap between wholesale market prices and consumer behavior.
As ideas go, a microgrid is nothing new. Think of steam pipes for district heating in older urban cores. But add a few software controls, and the possibilities grow.
The next big trend is to make network resources more interchangeable and less expensive.
Information technology (IT) infrastructure should be more like the infrastructure that generates electricity, IT consultants say, and at least one Texas utility is listening.
Forrester Research labels its vision for IT infrastructure "Organic IT" and promises that this new kind of infrastructure will save companies big bucks in the long run, without requiring a rip and replace of existing hardware and software.
Will liquefied natural gas catalyze a global natural gas market?
Even as critics still debate whether liquefied natural gas (LNG) can be made economical to compete against regional gas sub-markets, the growth in LNG trade has many convinced that it has the potential to create the basis for a global gas market.
Grid system operators now hold the cards. That means a bidding war for talent and a new wave of mergers.
TBy issuing new rules for a Standard Market Design (SMD) for wholesale power, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in all likelihood will usher in a new wave of utility mergers. But the pattern will differ from what we have seen in recent years.
The deals will center on the transmission sector, and take a horizontal shape, rather than vertical.
Even the volatility is volatile. And that can play havoc with hedging.
Jeff Skilling resigned from Enron over a year ago-after power prices in markets serving California had fallen 90 percent in three months.
But in July, Bank of America won approval from the Treasury Department to offer cash-settled electricity derivatives-with a former Enron regional director at the head of the desk.
So what has changed, and what hasn't?
And where the trouble spots lie in FERC's grid plan.
The mood appeared calm on June 26 in Washington, D.C., at the regular bi-weekly meeting of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Key officials from various regional transmission organizations (RTOs) had gathered before chairman Pat Wood and the other commissioners to brief them on progress over the past year in reforming wholesale electric markets, and on what the FERC might expect in the summer at hand.
RTOs will perpetuate regional monopolies and political rate regulation.
Economists sometimes get confused - especially when the real world doesn't fit into their neat boxes.
Network industries like telephone and electricity are today's case in point. Economists have viewed these parts of the economy as requiring special attention from regulatory authorities. They're viewed as "natural" monopolies displaying "economies of scope" and characterized by risky "lock-in" or "path dependency" features. That supposedly makes them prone to abuse by their free-market owners, and therefore in need of impartial regulatory oversight.