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

New McKitrick analysis undercuts climate models

New McKitrick analysis undercuts climate models

By Kennedy Maize

July 30, 2014 – Economist and statistics maven Ross McKitrick, who played a key role in revealing the statistical errors in the “hockey stick” reproduction of historic climate trends, has published a new article in the journal  Environmentrics that says current climate models consistently over-predict warming in the tropical troposphere (the lowest portion of the Earth’s atmosph...

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Calif. city wants CPUC’s Mike Peevey fired

Calif. city wants CPUC’s Mike Peevey fired

The California city of San Bruno has called for the ouster of Mike Peevey as president of the state Public Utilities Commission and for sanctions against PG&E, alleging improper contacts between the San Francisco-based utility and the PUC during the investigation of the 2010 natural gas explosion that left eight dead. The city’s claims are based on email traffic between the PUC and PG&E, whi...

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Two tribes protest Sask. nuke waste burial site

Two tribes protest Sask. nuke waste burial site

The U.S. is far from alone in facing woes over how to dispose of nuclear waste. Canada’s Winnipeg Free Press reports that two native tribes (called “First Nations”), have passed bans on burying nuclear waste in Saskatchewan which comes from reactors in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. Both the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation have voted to oppose siting ...

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Mine safety group cites problems at WIPP

Mine safety group cites problems at WIPP

Federal mine safety regulators have cited the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico for several dozen violations following the underground explosion of a nuclear waste canister in February, Reuters reports. The underground burial site for military wastes has been closed since the February 14 accident that exposed 22 workers to elevated levels of radioactivity. The Mine Saf...

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Sunburn: SEC charges jailed con man with a solar investment fraud

Sunburn: SEC charges jailed con man with a solar investment fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a jailed con man with a case of solar fraud, Fox Business reports. Christopher Plummer was using fake press releases to seek investors in MSGI, a non-existent solar company which said it was developing and managing solar projects across the country. He is currently serving a term in federal prison on unrelated felony charges, the account said. In ad...

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FERC outlines the complexities of EPA carbon rule: reliability, cost

FERC outlines the complexities of EPA carbon rule: reliability, cost

By Kennedy Maize

July 30, 2014 – Implementing the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide reduction plan for existing coal fired plants could turn into a dense bureaucratic and jurisdictional thicket, according to testimony from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing yesterday. The energy subcommittee was probing just how FERC should work wi...

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Editorials

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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New York’s stealth utility tax: Cuomo administration earns a Bronx cheer

New York’s stealth utility tax: Cuomo administration earns a Bronx cheer

We erred Tuesday in attributing a New York state utility surcharge to being associated with a fund for energy efficiency investments, and we thank the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Ralph Cavanagh and Jackson Morris for correcting that mistake. 

The so-called “18-a assessment” on New York utility bills was established during the Empire State’s 2009 financial and budget crises to provide a...

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Should every retail customer be expected to shop for an alternative power supplier?

Should every retail customer be expected to shop for an alternative power supplier?

Choice. We value it in most aspects of our lives. It’s certainly been successful for some electricity customers, particularly large commercial and industrial customers in some states that offer that option. But residential and small commercial customers? That may be a different matter. 

Yes, electricity supplier choice that large customers enjoy should be offered to small customers, assuming it ...

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