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

As NW Power Pool group changes direction again, utilities weigh options

As NW Power Pool group changes direction again, utilities weigh options

By Bill Henry

July 3, 2015—The Northwest Power Pool (NWPP) Market Coordination (MC) Initiative last month tabled a program to launch an energy imbalance market (EIM) that had been in the works since 2012. The decision is a setback for utilities looking to improve efficiencies in their power operations and hoping to find it in a way that works for the region’s complicated mix of investor-owned and con...

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NYISO to PSC: New grid infrastructure is seriously needed to deliver clean energy

NYISO to PSC: New grid infrastructure is seriously needed to deliver clean energy

New York needs significant new transmission investment to increase its reliance on renewable energy sources, Stephen Whitley , president of the New York Independent System Operator , told the state Public Service Commission in a letter. New York will need some 15,000 MW of renewable energy sources to replace aging power plants and comply with tough new federal power plant regulations, Whitley said . Muc...

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Illinois Commission files comments at FERC over MISO auction gone awry

Illinois Commission files comments at FERC over MISO auction gone awry

The Illinois Commerce Commission on Monday adopted comments to be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in three separate complaint proceedings involving the Midcontinent Independent System Operator ’s 2015-2016 Planning Resource Auction in which it asks to intervene. The complaints were filed by the advocacy group Public Citizen , the Illinois Attorney General ; and the Southwestern Electrical...

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Missouri PSC denies approval for $2B Grain Belt Express HVDC wind thruway

Missouri PSC denies approval for $2B Grain Belt Express HVDC wind thruway

Last week the Missouri Public Service Commission voted to deny Grain Belt Express Clean Line a certificate of convenience and necessity to build and operate an HVDC line through several Missouri counties. Show-Me State regulators concluded by a 3-2 vote that the proposed $2 billion project to move wind energy from western Kansas through Missouri to load centers in Illinois and Indiana was on balance n...

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New law boosts solar energy in Georgia

New law boosts solar energy in Georgia

Last month, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015, making Georgia the first state in the Southeast and the 25th in the nation to permit third-party ownership of solar. Earlier this year, the bill was passed unanimously by the General Assembly and was backed by the  Green Tea Coalition , a unique alliance of the Tea Party and the Sierra Club calling for freedo...

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Connecticut regulator denies Iberdrola-UIL merger; applicants’ delay is denied

Connecticut regulator denies Iberdrola-UIL merger; applicants’ delay is denied

By Robert Marritz

July 2, 2015—In a preliminary decision yesterday, Connecticut regulators rejected Iberdrola SA ’s $3 billion  acquisition  of UIL Holdings Corp. saying it wasn’t clear how it planned to run the company and that benefits for the public were not "tangible and sizeable." The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (“PURA,” or “the Authority”) also questioned Iberdrola’s commitment to t...

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Editorials

“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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A Response: Time-varying rates can save customers and utilities money

A Response: Time-varying rates can save customers and utilities money

I have to push back on Kim Jones’s guest editorial in response to your original piece, “ The time for dynamic rates is now. In fact, it's overdue. So do it, California, please .”

It’s interesting that Ms. Jones chose a non-essential good (jeans) to use as her comparison. Electricity, unlike jeans, must be produced precisely when and in the amount that customers’ loads demand. Unlike jeans, electricity ...

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Guest editorial: Dynamic rates? Customers don’t want to be power managers.

Regarding your blog and editorial—“ The time for dynamic rates is now. In fact, it's overdue.”— sorry, but I can’t help but push back. Electricity is an essential good. Most people don’t have a choice of who to buy it from.

The costs of producing it very seldom approach the price spikes that we observe in organized markets. If the price spikes were caused by something real, other than pure market pow...

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