A mature industry faces a worrying round of hype.
Performance measurement and action steps for smart grid investments.
Regulators and customers are holding utilities’ feet to the fire, when it comes to investing in advanced metering and smart grid systems—and rightly so. Making the most of investments requires a systematic approach to establishing standards and monitoring performance. But it also requires policy frameworks and cost recovery regimes that provide the right incentives.
FERC must align the immediate self-interest of profit-maximizing entities with its own view of what is in the public interest.
Two obstacles must be overcome to achieve true competitive markets: reversal of the long-term underinvestment in transmission, and greater clarity in the legal and regulatory environments. How can the industry make the most of a somewhat defensive regulatory posture?
On the Brink: Avoiding a Canadian California
Ontario's government has imposed substantial burdens on customers, with no benefits.
On a recent trip through Toronto's Pearson International Airport, I was stopped by an immigration official who, upon learning my business, snapped, "Why would anyone hire a Yank to advise on the Ontario electricity sector?"
With competition looming, electric utilities increasingly resort to price discounts, both to retain customers and to alleviate some of the pressure to introduce retail competition. Performance-based ratemaking (PBR), which allows utilities greater flexibility in offering price discounts, is emerging as an integral component of many restructuring proposals.
However, flexible pricing can create inequity among ratepayers.
One need only reflect upon the primary sponsors of current efforts to repeal section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) to begin to understand the folly of these efforts for the nation. The sponsors do not represent electricity ratepayers, who are claimed to be overpaying billions of dollars as a result of PURPA.
The winds of competition are blowing. Some find them chilling; others find them exhilarating. Deregulation calls on competitive markets to stand in for regulatory decisions, giving more choice to customers, reducing costs dramatically, and requiring new capabilities.
Competition is already transforming major portions of the electric industry.