Financial players bring credit depth to energy markets, but will they play by the rules?
The center of gravity for energy marketing and trading activity is moving from Houston to Wall Street. Some major financial institutions already have plunged into the market, while others are testing the waters, gearing up to participate in a bigger way. Already their impact is being felt, and it is most definitely welcome.
Generators struggle to plan for the future as they cope with an unstable present.
When the acting administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Marianne Horinko, signed the EPA's "routine replacement" rule on Aug. 27, 2003, she proclaimed that the new approach to Clean Air Act regulation would "provide … power plants with the regulatory certainty they need."
How far do states rights go in transmission planning?
The energy industry, coming off a remarkably difficult few years, had to deal with the huge Aug. 14 blackout, the ramifications of which have now reached regulatory policy. By putting transmission planning and reliability in the spotlight, the blackout could boost merchant transmission owners, as regulators and politicians scramble to make sure such an event does not happen again.
The grid does not need a Marshall Plan for new investment.
We don't know what caused the Aug. 14 blackout, but somehow we know that our transmission system needs $50 billion to $100 billion in investment and upgrades. And utilities need higher returns to raise that kind of money. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons.
The reality is that we aren't short $50 billion or $100 billion in our transmission system. The study said to support that proposition just doesn't do the job.
A review of which technologies and companies stand to win and lose as a result of the 2003 blackout.
Mishap, human error, and malice regularly crash the electric system. We have lurched from the Western economic power crisis of 1999-2000 to the Eastern reliability power crisis of 2003. Neither more studies nor more blackouts have changed what's been built-an excessive quantity of large generation plants dependent on relatively few major transmission lines. On its current course, the grid's inevitable destination is disaster.
Market power after two years.
The Energy Industry Standards Board doesn't exist yet, but it's got regulators talking.
More than two years ago, I suggested in this column that regional independent system operators would likely supplant the regional reliability councils as the caretakers of electric system reliability. And that's still possible—if the ISOs move quickly to RTO status, and if the RTOs get cracking right away on adopting uniform business rules. But the FERC may get tired waiting for that to happen.