Electricity Policy

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Certifying Regulatory Professionals: Why Not?

Certifying Regulatory Professionals: Why Not?

By Scott Hempling

We certify all manner of professionals to safeguard individuals and protect the public interest. Should we not also wish to assure that those who oversee planning, transactions, and operations of our most vital infrastructure are equipped to discharge their duties effectively?

Accountants, architects, barbers, cosmetologists, crane operators, dentists, docking masters, doctors, electricians, engineers, foresters, home inspectors, interior designers, landscape architects, lawyers, land surveyors, pilots, plumbers, private detectives, real estate appraisers, real estate brokers, security systems technicians, security guards, and tax preparers.

T

he above professions are among those my state of Maryland certifies.  Most states have similar lists.  But missing from every state’s list is “utility regulators.”

 

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Tipping Point for Transactive Energy: The Evolving Industry’s Policy and Technical Challenges

Tipping Point for Transactive Energy: The Evolving Industry’s Policy and Technical Challenges

By Mark Knight, Tom Sloan, Carl Zichella

Among visions of a more interactive grid with multilateral supplier and customer interactions, transactive energy is perhaps the most promising. There are more questions than answers at this point, but policies to guide its implementation are being developed.

I. What Is Transactive Energy?

I

n its Transactive Energy Framework, the GridWise Architecture Council (GWAC) defines transactive energy as “a system of economic and control mechanisms that allows the dynamic balance of supply and demand across the entire electrical infrastructure using value as a key operational parameter.” For many people transactive energy delineates a communications and business model through which electric customers interact with their utility to buy and sell electricity—or forego its use—based on economic and reliability signals. In a transactive energy system each participant chooses to take action (or not) based upon the monetary or other value to them of that action.

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An Interview with Infrastructure Guru, Farmer, and Kansas State Representative Tom Sloan

An Interview with Infrastructure Guru, Farmer, and Kansas State Representative Tom Sloan

 By Leah Y Parks

Transactive energy—some call it demand response on steroids—actually promises to be more than that, but it’s a concept that’s still being defined, refined, and proven. Many believe it will open the door to a new relationship between utilities and their customers.

EP: What drew you to attend and speak at this rather tech-oriented conference?

TS: I’m here because I’m a member of GWAC and because I want to stay abreast of technology that will help us to maintain a healthy electricity infrastructure in the future. New forces are putting pressure on the utility industry and transforming the way we use, produce, and distribute electricity. This transformation is putting pressure to change the way we will buy and sell electricity as well.

The decreasing costs of rooftop solar energy, ground-source heat pumps, and the increasing prevalence of smart apps that people can use to monitor their appliances or businesses—these are new tools. There is pressure on us to do better, and we can be greener and more reliant on efficiency and renewable energy. I believe we will be moving to a more distributed model where consumers both produce as well as consume electricity, and I believe a smart and transactive grid can help us manage that change.

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Cyber-risk, Standards, and Best Practices

Cyber-risk, Standards, and Best Practices

By Paul Feldman and Dan Hill

The electric power industry needs a transparent, funded, independent, dedicated, focused Best Practices effort.  If we want to achieve appropriate mitigation levels to protect industry infrastructure against cyber attacks we should do no less. 
T

he subject of cybersecurity is not only here to stay but will grow in importance over time.  The literature is already filled with summaries of various attacks of all varieties—right up to nation-state mini-attacks  such as the North Korean 2014 attack on Sony.  The literature is abundant with suggestions as to what to do to protect against cyber attacks—from the simple “don’t click on unknown email links”—to the sophisticated response that requires a small army of experts to implement.

Download a PDF of this article? Click here.

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Integrating Variable Resources in the Pacific Northwest

Integrating Variable Resources in the Pacific Northwest

By Jeremy Eckstein

With storage too costly at present, Pacific Northwest utilities needing operating flexibility are weighing the relative advantages of demand response programs and establishing or joining a regional energy imbalance market.
I

n this paper I explore what sources of electricity system flexibility are likely to be adopted in Oregon and Washington in order to manage predicted increases in renewable energy.  Although it is Northwest-centric in its focus and industry review, I believe it has relevance to US markets in general, as renewables integration and the search for greater system flexibility is of wide and growing interest.  I also explore policy options to encourage adoption of these technologies.

Download a PDF of this article? Click here.

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Electricity Daily

Forbes blog: ‘5 Reasons U.S. Power Grid Is Overdue For A Cyber Catastrophe’

Forbes blog: ‘5 Reasons U.S. Power Grid Is Overdue For A Cyber Catastrophe’

August 21, 2015— Loren Thompson , a frequent writer on the subject of cybersecurity, addressed the challenge facing those entrusted with protecting the nation’s vital electricity infrastructure on the Forbes website Wednesday in a five-point assessment that we summarize here.

1 . Nothing works without the power grid. The Department of Homeland Security identifies 16 “critical infrastructures” that support t...

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Range war in West: Ariz., Nev., Calif. IOUs aim to curb solar net metering

Range war in West: Ariz., Nev., Calif. IOUs aim to curb solar net metering

It’s happening in Arizona, in Nevada, even in California. It’s reminiscent of the classic movie “Network,” when anchorman Howard Beale , (the late, great Peter Finch ) urges watchers of his newscast to open their windows and shout, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!” Investor-owned utilities in some of America’s sunniest states have decided to fight rooftop solar, by making it far l...

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V.C. Summer nuclear units are delayed and $2b above budget approved in 2012

V.C. Summer nuclear units are delayed and $2b above budget approved in 2012

With all 40 remaining construction milestones for V.C. Summer Nuclear Station Units 2 and 3 behind schedule as of June 30— over 18 months for 33 of them— South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. is waiting on state regulators’ approval of its petition updating its construction and capital cost schedules supplied SCE&G by the construction consortium—a joint venture between Westinghouse Electric Co. an...

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There are solutions to the CO2 problem other than the CPP but all are expensive

There are solutions to the CO2 problem other than the CPP but all are expensive

Most efforts at combating climate change have focused on reducing carbon emissions, but some climate scientists believe we may have already passed the point of no return. That’s why Noah Deich , founder of a nonprofit called the Center for Carbon Removal , wants to pull carbon out of the air. Carbon removal schemes aren’t new, and aren’t entirely supported by the scientific community. The UN’s Intergove...

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RWE energizes unique storage plant

RWE energizes unique storage plant

On Monday, German giant RWE pushed the button on a unique hydrogen storage plant in Germany, where excess electricity from solar and wind sources will be converted into hydrogen for later use as fuel for Ibbenbüren's district heating systems. Gas can be taken from the storage facility in times of low renewable power production, as well, to meet power demand. Energy storage is necessary to meet ...

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Vox.com blog notes CPP changes that could benefit new—not existing—nukes

Vox.com blog notes CPP changes that could benefit new—not existing—nukes

August 20, 2015—It’s no secret that nuclear plants, particularly those in organized markets like PJM and MISO , have struggled to compete recently, with load growth nearly flat and competition from “zero-bid” renewables and cheap natural gas keeping energy prices low. And, according to a thoughtful blog from Vox.com ’s Brad Plumer , it's possible that under President Obama 's  Clean Power Plan (CPP)—which ...

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Editorials

Proposition 39 Will Provide Energy-Saving, Education, and Job Benefits That Are Worth the Wait

Proposition 39 Will Provide Energy-Saving, Education, and Job Benefits That Are Worth the Wait

A recent  news report  is raising questions about whether California has moved quickly enough to achieve the ambitious goals of the groundbreaking Proposition 39 - also known as the Clean Energy Jobs Act - which closed a tax loophole on out-of-state corporations three years ago and directed half of the proceeds to be invested in energy efficiency and clean energy improvements to public sch...

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Utility-scale vs. residential scale solar: Which is more cost-effective? For whom?

Utility-scale vs. residential scale solar: Which is more cost-effective? For whom?

It is a good thing in this disputatious world, where little indeed goes unchallenged, if we can agree on something at the kernel of a larger agreement. Such may be the case of big vs. little solar energy deployment.

It is more cost-effective for utility customers to power their electric appliances and devices from photovoltaic panels mounted on the rooftops of their residences and businesses and th...

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Guest editorial: The Dog That Did Not Bark—aftermath of an unexpected nuclear closure

Guest editorial: The Dog That Did Not Bark—aftermath of an unexpected nuclear closure

A memorable Sherlock Holmes story, “Silver Blaze,” involves the disappearance of a racehorse and a dog that did not bark. A contemporary California tale involves a crisis that did not happen when 2,200 MW of nuclear generation suddenly had to close.

As with the dog that did not bark, it is important to reflect on why: why no reliability problems occurred or are anticipated after the sudden 2013 ret...

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Missouri regulators say no to the Grain Belt Express and its wind energy turnpike

Missouri regulators say no to the Grain Belt Express and its wind energy turnpike

Last week the Missouri Public Service Commission , by a 3-2 vote, denied Grain Belt Express Clean Line the certificate of convenience and necessity needed to build a major HVDC connector to move 3,500 MW of wind energy from western Kansas wind farms to load centers in Illinois and Indiana. Kansas and Indiana had granted the project a certificate. Illinois has not yet acted.

Facing opposition from lan...

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“The economic limitations of wind and solar power”—admiration, and a tiny quibble

“The economic limitations of wind and solar power”—admiration, and a tiny quibble

David Roberts , late of Grist and now energy and environmental policy guru for Vox , has posted an absolutely essential essay that bears the above title. Wisely, it draws heavily on excellent blog posts by Jesse Jenkins and Alex Trembath that begin with useful tutorials and end at this point: While deploying 100% renewables—a/k/a “variable renewable energy” (VRE)—to meet all our electricity needs is technolo...

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Guest Editorial: Did the Pope really blast California?

Guest Editorial: Did the Pope really blast California?

We’re always privileged to publish the impeccable reasoning of our friend Ralph Cavanagh, as we are here, in his response to those who chose to misconstrue the clear intention of Pope Francis’s climate change encyclical. We thank him for sharing with our readers the views expressed in his blog yesterday.

“Pope blasts California’s cap-and-trade” was the headline from the San Francisco Chronicle’s init...

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