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A New Energy Efficiency Manifesto: California Needs a More Integrated, Cost-Effective Approach

A New Energy Efficiency Manifesto:        California Needs a More Integrated, Cost-Effective Approach

By Cynthia Mitchell

Our energy efficiency programs are not adequate to meet grid-scale and local distribution service challenges. This requires a new urgency to find more robust approaches to financing and scaling efficiency — not just in California, but across the country.
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 powerful verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes was turned into a moving song by Pete Seeger and popularized by The Byrds as “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season).  It seems an appropriate anthem for the utility industry today.  The electric power industry in California is at a crucial season of change: meeting state and federal environmental initiatives; planning and implementing diverse resources to continue meeting the energy needs of its people and its economy, cleanly and at lowest cost; and answering novel operational challenges previously unseen in the industry.

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Policies to Build a Flexible Power System

Policies to Build a Flexible Power System

By Bentham Paulos

A power system with large amounts of wind and solar power requires flexibility to maintain reliability.  While the flexibility toolbox is well known to grid operators, policies and financial incentives to apply them to integrating renewables are sometimes lacking.
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he world is heading into the next phase of a global Energiewende, the transition from fossil energy to a highly-efficient, renewable, and low carbon future.  As renewable energy technologies become more mature and cost-competitive, policies to promote their use need to adapt.

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Demand Response is Alive and Well: DR Opportunities in a Post-Order 745 World

Demand Response is Alive and Well: DR Opportunities in a Post-Order 745 World

By Greg Wikler, Stuart Schare, and Brett Feldman

Whatever the outcome of litigation to redress the effects of the D.C. Circuit panel’s decision voiding FERC Order 745, the economic and operational benefits of demand response are so great that many opportunities remain for this largely untapped resource.
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hile the jury is still out on whether the recent D.C. Circuit panel’s decision to overturn FERC Order 745 will withstand an appeals process, many commentators have questioned whether the decision spells the end of demand response (DR) as we know it.  This paper provides a number of reasons for those in the DR industry to be hopeful.

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Three Years of Residential Electric Choice in Illinois, with Opt-Out Aggregation, Yields Results: A Status Report

Three Years of Residential Electric Choice in Illinois, with Opt-Out Aggregation, Yields Results: A Status Report

By Ann McCabe

Illinois residents are becoming accustomed to seeking the best deal for electricity service from an alternate supplier. Beginning in 2011, the ability of cities and towns to contract electric service for their residents through muni aggregation has led to two-thirds of residential customers being served by alternate suppliers. 
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uring the last three years, residential electric switching increased dramatically in Illinois.  By the end of May 2014, more than 3 million residential customers received their electricity from a non-utility provider.  These customers represent about two-thirds of all residential customers; the actual population that switched is significantly greater than the number of meters given the average household size in Illinois.  Illinois has a population of 12.8 million.

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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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Electricity Daily

FERC issues ‘fuel assurance’ order, seeking reliable 2014-15 winter supply

FERC issues ‘fuel assurance’ order, seeking reliable 2014-15 winter supply

By Kennedy Maize

November 21 – With winter spreading across much of the U.S. (and already bombarding upstate New York), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is looking closely at “fuel assurance,” an issue that triggered outages and staggeringly high prices last winter. In an order yesterday, the commission directed regional wholesale markets under its jurisdiction to file reports on their effo...

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Maine PUC votes 2-1 to back electric fee to pay for natural gas pipeline expansion

Maine PUC votes 2-1 to back electric fee to pay for natural gas pipeline expansion

By Robert Marritz – Last week the Maine Public Utilities Commission voted 2-1 to support a fee on electricity customers that could be used to finance expansion of gas pipelines into the state. The decision prompted a 37-page dissent from Commissioner David Littell, highlighting his strong disagreement with the commission majority, represented by Chairman Tom Welch and Commissioner Mark Vannoy.

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SciAm blog: Why Oncor’s energy storage proposal is a game changer for Texas

SciAm blog: Why Oncor’s energy storage proposal is a game changer for Texas

1. Size matters . Installing 5,000 MW of storage, strategically located around the state’s 69,000 MW system, would fundamentally change how the grid operator could schedule power plants to meet electric demand, under Robert Fares’s blog in Scientific American .

2. It’s a new grid storage business model . To capture both transmission and distribution and electricity market benefits, the Brattle Group pr...

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PACE loans are back to finance energy efficiency and solar for customers

PACE loans are back to finance energy efficiency and solar for customers

Renovate America, a closely held company that works with municipalities to let homeowners use property liens to borrow cheaply for energy-efficiency improvements, is expecting more sales of a new type of bond tied to the financing.  “We expect to do additional securitizations next year,” J.P. McNeill, Chief Executive Officer at Renovate America, said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg New...

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Blog: ERCOT report on EPA plan is amiss

Blog: ERCOT report on EPA plan is amiss

A blog on the Forbes website takes issue with ERCOT’s analysis that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will increase the state’s system reliability and hike rates by 20%. The article cites four points: (1) that the ERCOT analysis failed to assess the large deployment of energy efficiency the state could achieve, which the Brattle Group found could produce benefits from $2 to $5 for each $1 invested; (2) ERCOT...

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Macfarlane valedictory: Nuclear decommission needs new approach

Macfarlane valedictory: Nuclear decommission needs new approach

By Kennedy Maize

November 20, 2014 – The US nuclear industry and its regulator, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, have had their eyes on the wrong ball, outgoing NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane said in a valedictory speech at the National Press Club in Washington this week. “In the past few years,” she said , “the commission and senior management have had to confront the fact that the future th...

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Editorials

The deeper meaning of efficiency—and why it matters

The deeper meaning of efficiency—and why it matters

Energy efficiency is like a looming, benign shadow. It’s there but not quite real.

Five year ago we were given the impressive McKinsey & Co. study, “ Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy .” It concluded that the US could reduce annual non-transportation energy consumption by 23 percent by 2020, eliminating more than $1.2 trillion in wasted electricity costs and 1.1 gigatons of greenhou...

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In defense of organized wholesale electric markets

In defense of organized wholesale electric markets

By Kennedy Maize

Let me offer some disagreements with Robert Marritz’s recent editorial on organized wholesale markets. My friend and colleague makes a case that RTOs and ISOs are not capable of assuring adequate capacity to prevent serious reliability problems. Then he argues implicitly, although not overtly, for a return to state-based, cost-of-service regulation. I don’t find his arguments persuas...

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Seeking to make ends meet in organized markets: What’s wrong with this picture?

Seeking to make ends meet in organized markets: What’s wrong with this picture?

Is there a hidden flaw in the present construct of organized regional markets—the sort that are operated by ISO New England, PJM, ERCOT, and the New York ISO?

They all do a fine job of planning, regional dispatch, coordination, and management of complex markets for power, energy, and ancillary services. Yet, problems continue to poke their heads up, like an annoying game of Whack-a-mole. The reason...

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Guest editorial: New England generators seek a level playing field for resources

Guest editorial: New England generators seek a level playing field for resources

To the editor—In response to an October 20 piece in Electricity Daily , the New England Power Generator Association’s (NEPGA) believes it necessary to clarify its position in the recent petition to the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission (NHPUC) requesting a review of the state’s affiliate rules. In a petition filed in September, and granted last week, NEPGA sought state oversight over Public Serv...

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Teaching the ‘Duck’ to Fly

Teaching the ‘Duck’ to Fly

With apologies to economist Jim Lazar for appropriating the title of his excellent paper, “ Teaching the ‘Duck’ to Fly ,” recently a featured work on the Regulatory Assistance Project website—and to our readers for not pointing your attention to this paper sooner—we shamelessly steal from Shakespeare as well: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy....

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Regulators and the regulated: Has the bright line of propriety become hazy today?

Regulators and the regulated: Has the bright line of propriety become hazy today?

One of the country’s leading utility regulatory agencies, the California Public Utilities Commission, has its hands full. A fireball burst from a Pacific Gas & Electric pipeline 1,000 feet in the air in San Bruno on Thursday, September 9, 2010, killed eight people, flattened dozens of homes, and destroyed a neighborhood. It has now burst into flame again, ending the career of the commission’s ...

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