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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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New Suppliers for a New Century: Will Incumbency Trump Merit?

New Suppliers for a New Century: Will Incumbency Trump Merit?

 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.
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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. 

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A Review of Fixed Price, Index & Blended Pricing Plans

A Review of Fixed Price, Index & Blended Pricing Plans

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.

Introduction

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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.

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Electricity Daily

How to get older coal plants back in the money? Use them for seasonal dispatch

How to get older coal plants back in the money? Use them for seasonal dispatch

 

By Kennedy Maize

April 24, 2104 – Economic dispatch – scheduling the lowest-cost baseload units as the first line of generation – has long been the general practice of U.S. electric utilities. That’s meant that coal plants often led the dispatch queue.

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Forget global warming and concentrate on energy poverty, says Lomborg

Forget global warming and concentrate on energy poverty, says Lomborg

 

Global warming? Not the most important factor in the big picture of the energy challenges facing the planet in the world ahead, says environmental analyst and frequent contrarian Bjorn Lomborg. In an Earth Day column in the New York Post Tuesday, Lomborg wrote , “One-third of the world’s people — 2.9 billion — cook and keep warm burning twigs and dung, which give off deadly fumes. This leads t...

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Sen. Landrieu is pulling in big bucks from industry in her reelection race

Sen. Landrieu is pulling in big bucks from industry in her reelection race

 

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been pulling in big donor bucks for her difficult reelection campaign, according to the Wall Street Journal. Big business donors – traditionally Republicans – have given Landrieu five times as much money as they have to her Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy. Says the business newspaper, Landrieu...

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NRC gives Millstone 2 nuke an OK to use warmer cooling water, as seas warm

NRC gives Millstone 2 nuke an OK to use warmer cooling water, as seas warm

 

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given the Millstone 2 nuclear unit in Connecticut a green light to use somewhat warmer cooling water from Long Island Sound in its once-through cooling system. According to the Wall Street Journal, the NRC is considering a similar relaxation of its rules for Millstone 3. Millstone 2 was forced to shut down in 2012 because the intake temperature of the...

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NARUC to Congress: Kill the D&D tax

NARUC to Congress: Kill the D&D tax

 The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners is asking congressional appropriators to kill the “uranium enrichment decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) fund,” a levy on electricity consumers used to pay for cleaning up the Department of Energy’s uranium enrichment facilities. So far the toll has come to $2.6 billion and the Obama administration has included the fund ...

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MIT researchers float the idea of offshore small nuclear reactors

MIT researchers float the idea of offshore small nuclear reactors

 

By Kennedy Maize

April 23, 2014 – MIT researchers are floating a new, old idea for how to rescue nuclear power technology in a world that may be facing global warming but doesn’t appear to be willing to address the problem with the carbon-free power of the atom. Their idea: floating nukes. Presumably, small nuclear plants located on the equivalent of oil drilling rigs can sit at sea and ride ...

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Editorials

Rumbles in the West, as an energy imbalance market takes shape

Rumbles in the West, as an energy imbalance market takes shape

 

With last week’s news that NV Energy filed a request with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to participate in the West’s only energy imbalance market (EIM) – launched in 2014 by the California ISO – the effort to create a multilateral trading scheme in the far-flung West appears to be gaining momentum. How successful the market may be could depend on whether consumer-owned utilities wil...

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Needed: Clearer vision for a smarter grid

Needed: Clearer vision for a smarter grid

 

The days of massive utility rollouts of automatic metering infrastructure (AMI), in the form of those newfangled and oddly controversial smart meters, is largely a thing of the past. Soon we will all be smart metered. What then?

Will the market and regulatory rules that underpin investment decisions go beyond asset deployment to liberalize the retail marketplace, such that customers’ applianc...

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Does size matter?

Does size matter?

 

How large should an interconnected electric grid be? It’s a question that was raised recently by scientists Benjamin Carreras, David Newman, and Ian Dobson. Their article, just published in the journal Chaos under the title “Does Size Matter?” has kicked over some embers in a fire that needs to be reignited. (The article is dead serious, though its title does reveal a mordant sense of humor....

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Change and risk: What’s a utility to do?

Change and risk: What’s a utility to do?

 

Last week we offered some brief thoughts on risk. Risk is what you can’t know. It lurks around the corner, in the weeds, waiting to undo even the best-laid plans. We noted the recent report of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group, the darkest yet in projecting impacts on the world we know.

Plainly, there is risk in doing nothing. And there is risk in all the alternatives w...

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Climate change and IPCC’s 5th Assessment: Risk everywhere you look

Climate change and IPCC’s 5th Assessment: Risk everywhere you look

 

Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability , the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II’s contribution to the IPCC’s 5 th Assessment Report, has just been issued. It projects a bleak picture indeed: ice caps melting, sea ice collapsing, heat waves intensifying, coral reefs dying, coastal cities and towns facing ruin.

Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils si...

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Eyeing China’s big gamble with CCS, a fuel-hungry world looks on

Eyeing China’s big gamble with CCS, a fuel-hungry world looks on

 

Holy provocative headline! The lurid cover in the April issue of Wired magazine features the image of a large, shiny  lump of coal and the headline, “ Coal: It’s Dangerous, Its Dirty, and It’s the Future of Clean Energy .” 

The cover article, by Charles C. Mann, has more depth and more credibility than his title, but that’s no surprise. 

Mr. Mann quotes former Energy Secretary Ste...

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