Electricity Policy

Thu07302015

Last updateThu, 30 Jul 2015 9pm

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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

NYPSC staff white paper steps cautiously into REV, suggesting first principles

NYPSC staff white paper steps cautiously into REV, suggesting first principles

On Tuesday, the New York Public Service Commission staff released a white paper on ratemaking and utility business models to be considered as part of the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, which seeks to transform distribution utilities into energy platform providers, encourage distributed generation, and reduce electric system peaks while improving asset utilization.

The 128-page docume...

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Should utilities own energy storage?

Should utilities own energy storage?

Energy storage is hard to pin down. When it’s charging, it acts like a load. When it’s discharging, it’s looks like a resource. Storage can serve as demand response, can moderate frequency excursions, and can instantly relieve grid congestion. Its versatility makes it quite valuable. But it also leads to an important question: What role should utilities play in ownership of energy storage? It woul...

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SCE seeks $7.6b from Mitsubishi for faulty nuclear plant steam generators

SCE seeks $7.6b from Mitsubishi for faulty nuclear plant steam generators

Southern California Edison is seeking almost $7.6 billion from Mitsubishi, the Japanese manufacturer of the faulty steam generators that led to the permanent shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. The claim is at least $3 billion higher than SCE had previously sought from Mitsubishi. Money collected from Mitsubishi would be split 50-50 with customers, said Mindy Spatt , a spokeswoman for The ...

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ABACCUS marks status of customer choice

ABACCUS marks status of customer choice

Since 2007, the DEFG consultancy has published an “Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States,” scoring US states and Canadian provinces with respect to their efforts to promote a competitive retail electric sector. In ABACCUS 2015 Texas is again the leading customer choice jurisdiction, followed closely by Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois and Ohio. One-third of North America...

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SolarCity offers package tailored to small- and medium-size businesses

SolarCity offers package tailored to small- and medium-size businesses

SolarCity said Tuesday it’s introducing a new service targeted to small and medium-sized businesses that will make it more attractive for them to install solar, while paying less for electricity. SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive told Reuters that the business segment has been neglected by solar firms and that it will cut costs by using its employees to install panels rather than outsourcing the work and will...

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ITC Holdings asks FERC to resolve a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ situation

ITC Holdings asks FERC to resolve a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ situation

July 30, 2015—ITC Holdings Corp., the nation's largest merchant transmission company, on Tuesday petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a Declaratory Order seeking guidance on issues it says are critical to the regional competitive transmission bidding under Order 1000.

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Editorials

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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Transmission lines and the many sides of NIMBY: An Arkansas customer’s point of view

Transmission lines and the many sides of NIMBY: An Arkansas customer’s point of view

No one wants to live next to a power plant or a transmission line, especially when the facility will have little or no direct usefulness to the jurisdiction where they reside. It’s no wonder then that landowners in Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas are opposing three transmission lines proposed by Clean Line Energy Partners that they believe are of little or no value to its citizens.

The proposed Rock Isl...

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What’s the value of electricity service?

What’s the value of electricity service?

In remarks to the Edison Electric Institute Annual Convention a week ago, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz addressed an issue he believes is central to the evolving transformation of the electricity industry: valuation of the services that energy assets provide.

Proper valuation of assets to the power system is vital to the ongoing transformation of the sector, Moniz said. "We need more transparent and br...

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