Electricity Policy

       

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Preserving Economic Demand Response: Promptly and Lawfully

Preserving Economic Demand Response: Promptly and Lawfully

 By Scott Hempling

The value of economic demand response is so great that our collective interests should not wait on lengthy appeals of a D.C. Circuit panel’s decision to preserve this option.  Instead, FERC, the states, utilities, generators, and Congress have alternatives to continue this cost-saving practice without running afoul of the D.C. Circuit’s action.
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he day before my first appellate argument, at the Ninth Circuit in April 1989, I went to court to observe.  One pair of opponents, having finished before the judges, continued arguing in the hallway.   We could keep arguing too, for the months and years that will pass while the full D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court review last month’s D.C. Circuit panel opinion.  Or we can bear down and find ways to make demand response work.  This essay proposes some actions, categorized according to who can take them: generators, FERC, retail utilities, states, municipalities and Congress.

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The State and Promise of Energy Storage

The State and Promise of Energy Storage

by Ken Dragoon

There are many potential avenues to developing economically viable options for energy storage. Reaching any of these goals will be a powerfully transformative element of a more modern and efficient electricity grid.
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nergy storage has become one of the hottest topics in the electric power industry today, as evidenced by a burgeoning number of new studies, conferences, technological breakthroughs and new policies.  The interest in energy storage is inevitably linked to rapidly rising penetration levels of variable energy resources—primarily wind and solar.  Perhaps the most significant recent development is California’s adoption of  an energy storage procurement target for the state’s three investor-owned utilities to acquire 1,325 MW of energy storage by 2020.

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Tracking the Consumer Value of Smart Grid Deployment in Illinois and Beyond

Tracking the Consumer Value of Smart Grid Deployment in Illinois and Beyond

 

by Raya Salter

With huge investments needed to modernize the electricity grid, it’s imperative that all parties at interest have a voice both in determining the rules by which utility improvements are judged and ensuring that the environmental and efficiency promises of the smart grid are achieved.
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ithin the last decade, several states, including Illinois, began considering or adopting laws and regulations to enable utility investment in smart grid technologies.  The Electricity Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2011 (EIMA) ushered in $3.2 billion in smart grid investments for the Illinois utilities, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and Ameren Illinois (Ameren).  EIMA produced the largest electric infrastructure investment Illinois utilities will have made in a generation.  The law was the product of negotiations and collaboration between several stakeholders, including the two utilities and consumer advocates. Ultimately, EIMA mandated performance rates, including express metrics for success, designed to ensure that the investments deliver consumer benefits within a 10-year time frame.

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Democratizing Demand and Diversifying Supply: Legal and Economic Principles for the Microgrid Era

Democratizing Demand and Diversifying Supply: Legal and Economic Principles for the Microgrid Era

 

by Scott Hempling

Microgrids can enhance security and local control for discrete locations on the larger interconnected electric grid. The relationships and mutual responsibilities of the microgrid and the external grid need to be carefully defined, however. Here is a framework for doing just that.
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icrogrid policy, if carried out cost-effectively, offers two distinct benefits:  democratization of demand, allowing consumers to custom-design their own services; and diversity of suppliers, allowing consumers to choose providers based on their merits.  Whether these benefits emerge will depend on how well state legislatures and commissions resolve questions about market structure, customer responsibility and utility compensation.  This article identifies the main questions, along with the legal and economic principles necessary to answer those questions.

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Tapping Into the Potential of Energy Storage

Tapping Into the Potential of Energy Storage

 

 

by Hon. Carla J. Peterman and Melicia Charles

By legislation and regulatory decision, California has recognized that its long-term clean energy and environmental goals are not likely to be met absent a viable storage economy.  Regulators have set forth an open, flexible process intended to lead to that result.  

I. The Changing Needs of California’s Electric Infrastructure

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alifornia energy policy supports an ambitious transition from conventional fossil generation to renewable and other clean resources. Policies such as the state’s 33 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard, zero net energy goals, the Governor’s Zero Emission Vehicle Plan, and now energy storage targets are positioning the state to attain this future. Imbedded in this vision is the expectation that California will achieve these policy goals while promoting greater efficiency, reliability, affordability, and increased safety.

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Electricity Daily

PJM’s capacity plan—larger payments, larger penalties—unsettles generators

PJM’s capacity plan—larger payments, larger penalties—unsettles generators

September 30, 2014 -- PJM Interconnection says it has several plans to avoid blackouts if the mid-Atlantic region experiences another protracted polar vortex. The nation’s largest regional transmission operator and market wants to test how quickly some little-used generators could fire up their plants if needed. It would also increase penalties to companies that can't meet grid commitments wh...

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Wash.’s Tri-Cities studies a small modular nuke and finds that it likes it

Wash.’s Tri-Cities studies a small modular nuke and finds that it likes it

A state-funded study of installing a small modular nuclear reactor at Washington state’s Hanford site would save more money than previously anticipated, according to the Tri-City Development Council (Tridec), an economic development group. The SMR could help meet growing power needs of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and serve the Hanford nuclear reservation after a nuclear waste vitrificati...

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Aussie markets see negative prices—in daytime. It can’t happen here, can it?

Aussie markets see negative prices—in daytime. It can’t happen here, can it?

Last week, for the first time in memory, the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day. For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar. “Negat...

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Advocates: Why is Wisconsin delaying new building energy efficiency standards?

Advocates: Why is Wisconsin delaying new building energy efficiency standards?

Energy efficiency advocates in Wisconsin are asking why the Badger State’s building standards are out of date. Energy efficiency mavens know that some of the greatest energy savings gains have come through states’ passage of modern building codes. Energy consumption in buildings accounts for one-third of all the energy used in the US and two-thirds of the total electricity demand. Model building c...

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Offshore: Efficiency lag hurts Turkey; Canada's First Nations get grid service

Offshore: Efficiency lag hurts Turkey; Canada's First Nations get grid service

Should anyone think the US has run its course in delivering energy more efficiently, consider the economic opportunities available to Turkey and Canada’s First Nations in Ontario. Turkey could save more than half of its spending on energy—as much as $39 billion— by adopting energy-efficiency policies, Rıza Köroğlu, director of Istanbul-based Total Energy Efficiency, told the country’s press agency....

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Do natural gas methane leaks make the greenhouse gas situation worse?

Do natural gas methane leaks make the greenhouse gas situation worse?

September 29, 2014 -- Hydro-fracturing of natural gas along with the glut of gas it has liberated is widely seen as beneficial in the fight against climate change. But natural gas, primarily methane, contains up to 100-times the heat-trapping effect of CO2 in the short run. Thus, methane that leaks into the air from anywhere in the natural gas infrastructure has a potent climate-warming effec...

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Editorials

Regulation and Competition in a Time of Change: A Meditation

Regulation and Competition in a Time of Change: A Meditation

Last week I had the privilege of attending the annual meeting of the Northwest and Intermountain Power Producers Coalition, which is known for its informality, candid and illuminating talk, and a generally good time. I even had the opportunity to moderate a panel, “Creating Opportunity in a Time of Change,” featuring UBS utility and IPP analyst, Julien Dumoulin-Smith, and the chairman of the Washi...

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The Ohio proposals: Are some suppliers unable to weather market conditions?

The Ohio proposals: Are some suppliers unable to weather market conditions?

The nation’s regional transmission operators generally do a fine job of managing a complex, interdependent grid system and its related power and power services markets. These RTOs and independent system operators (one wishes we would settle on one term) bring order to a Balkanized system of plants, wires, and ownerships. The ISOs and RTOs reduce reserve requirements and provide transmission and ot...

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FERC decisions can’t trump state regulators’ prudence reviews

FERC decisions can’t trump state regulators’ prudence reviews

The Supreme Court’s decision to deny Kansas City Power & Light’s petition for review of lower court decisions upholding Missouri’s disallowance of costs that had been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission interested us; it seemed to cry out for a further look. But on that further look it became clear that KCP&L’s case was simply the proverbial “dog that won’t hunt.”

The case,...

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Climate change, near-term and long-term

Climate change, near-term and long-term

Which is more dangerous, carbon or methane? Odysseus’s choice or Sophie’s Choice?

An excellent op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times by Justin Gillis, “Picking Lesser of Two Climate Evils,” addresses the debate in the scientific community about whether it is more important to control carbon in the atmosphere or methane. Both positions have their advocates, but there is no question that carbon, the less...

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The mystery of markets: How best can they serve the public good?

The mystery of markets: How best can they serve the public good?

Markets are ubiquitous in our lives but, until recently, not so in the electricity business. They are a bit unusual even for many who believe they understand them, and especially for those who grew up in the regulated industry and still see its merits.

Markets are not entirely predictable; they respond to external forces: The end of load growth. Abundant wind power. Abundant natural gas. Rooftop so...

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Getting the numbers right: Be careful what you wish for.

Getting the numbers right: Be careful what you wish for.

The discussion about net metering – the price utilities are required to pay their rooftop solar customers for solar energy delivered to the utility – seems to have slipped offstage for a break, like a warm-up act for bigger, related policy questions. Here are two: 

  • What is the value of the grid and its interconnection to a solar, microgrid or other bypassing customer? Or, more precisely, what ...

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