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
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.
by Scott Hempling
On customer responsibility for infrastructure costs, the NRDC-EEI Joint Statement has it right; but it errs in failing to insist that keepers of the network and providers of new services be chosen based on merit, not incumbency.
n the 20th century, state law protected electric utilities from competition, leaving customers no choice but to buy from vertically integrated monopolies. Regulators based investor-owned utilities’ profits more on kWh sales and asset growth than on efficiency and innovation.
By John Domagalski, Lev Goldberg, and James Hua
Innovative pricing plans in retail choice markets can help customers better manage price and budget volatility over time. And, though past results are no guarantee of future performance, some pricing plans have proved more stable and lower cost than others.
key benefit of competitive retail electric markets is that they offer commercial, industrial, and other business and government customers an ever growing range of choices of contract duration and pricing plans. These customers can select contracts that range from monthly to annual to multi-year agreements and can choose among a number of widely available pricing plans. Pricing plans readily available include “Fixed Price,” “Index,” and “Blended.” In a fixed price plan customers lock-in a set rate for a defined period of time, whereas customers on an index plan pay a variable hourly ‘index’ price for their electricity. A blended pricing plan fixes the price for a defined percentage of energy usage while allowing the remainder to ‘float’ on the hourly index. These innovative options – many of which are not available in traditionally regulated states – have given customers, in competitive retail markets, unprecedented flexibility to align their energy cost strategy with corporate goals, budgets and business planning horizons.
By Scott Hempling
Utility merger proposals are likely to continue at a challenging pace, but the effect of a merger on innovation does not always receive the attention it deserves. Given the concurrent jurisdiction over state and federal regulators that a merger often warrants, its effect on innovation should move to the forefront of review.
n a short three decades, several hundred investor-owned electric utilities have become 50 utility holding companies. The 1984 breakup of AT&T has led not to atomistic competition among numerous telecommunications providers, but to horizontal consolidation in the local, long distance, wire line and cable sectors; and to the vertical integration of content and carriage, exemplified by the 2011 merger of NBC Universal and Comcast.
SmartGrid 2014 Annual Symposium
by Patty Durand
Implementation of a smarter grid can improve system reliability and economic efficiency, while saving customers and the overall energy delivery system billions. The proof is there to be seen.
umerous studies have shown that the United States’ aging grid is in need of large, sustained investments to shore up its flagging reliability. From the World Economic Forum to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, data show the U.S. grid is slipping in terms of power quality and reliability. On any given day the equivalent of 500,000 people in the U.S. are without power for 2 hours or more and those outages cost the U.S. economy around $80 billion annually. Looking beyond the economy, impacts to people can range from the inconvenience of losing air conditioning on a hot summer day to adverse health impacts for those who rely on electricity for critical medical equipment.