Electricity Policy

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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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Will U.S. Utilities Experience an Energy Transition Similar to Germany’s?

Will U.S. Utilities Experience an Energy Transition Similar to Germany’s?

By Bob Gibson

Changes in the structure of the evolving electricity markets of the U.S. and Germany may make national differences in policy and public perception irrelevant, as new technologies take hold.

 

W

hen E.ON, one of Europe’s largest utilities, announced in December that it would spin off its conventional power generation business into a separate entity and refocus on renewables, energy efficiency and grid operations, an obvious question arose: Could similar transitions be coming to utilities in the United States?  In a word, yes.

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Competitive Power Markets Benefit Customers, but Standards that Support Competition Must Be Preserved

Competitive Power Markets Benefit Customers, but Standards that Support Competition Must Be Preserved

By Bill Massey

It’s indisputable that competition is a highly effective way to ensure that electricity, an essential engine of our economy, is provided to users reliably and at lowest cost. But it’s also crucial that we preserve rules that assure fair and wholesome competition.
I

t is hard to believe that almost two decades have passed since federal and state utility regulators began in earnest to adopt competitive markets as a preferred way to ensure a reliable supply of electricity at the lowest available cost.  What’s even harder to believe is that there are still skeptics who doubt that electricity markets – where they have been fully implemented – are indeed beneficial to consumers and the regional economies they power.  Members of the COMPETE Coalition are not to be found among the skeptics.

Download a PDF of this article? Click here.

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Electricity Daily

MIT study sees the ‘Future of Solar Energy’ as bright; net metering less so

MIT study sees the ‘Future of Solar Energy’ as bright; net metering less so

By Robert Marritz

May 6 2015—There’s good news aplenty for solar advocates in MIT’s comprehensive “ The Future of Solar Energy ,” an interdisciplinary MIT study led by the MIT Energy Initiative, released yesterday. But there’s also sobering news for those who would prefer policies to remain as they are, especially in the report’s recommendations for net metering.

That’s because the 332-page report app...

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Appellate court spanks Florida PSC

Appellate court spanks Florida PSC

A Florida state appellate court handed a rebuke to the Florida Public Service Commission on Monday, ruling that the commission hurt utility customers when it refused to explain why it banned the public’s lawyers from asking questions in certain rate cases. The ruling by the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ordered the PSC to explain why it refuses to allow the Office of Public Counsel to ...

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Oncor proposed Texas storage rollout is still alive, but idling on the back burner

Oncor proposed Texas storage rollout is still alive, but idling on the back burner

Oncor Electric Delivery  has ruled out any attempt this year to try to win state authority to deploy a massive battery rollout in Texas that could give the distribution utility—or someone else—an open door to wring efficiencies from Texas’s generation, transmission, and distribution system. SNL reported  that Oncor CEO and Chairman Bob Shapard told analysts during an earnings call that he did...

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Interstate Power & Light closes deal to sell its Minn. city load to rural electrics

Interstate Power & Light closes deal to sell its Minn. city load to rural electrics

Interstate Power & Light  won regulatory approval  Thursday to sell its assets to 12 cooperative utilities in a $122 million deal that will mean higher electricity prices for 43,000 customers. The deal, prompted by a restructuring of Alliant Energy , IPL’s parent company, will affect electric customers in small southern Minnesota cities long served by IPL and closes the door on a segment...

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Pennsylvania PUC is tinkering with rule to boost small DER, but not too much?

Pennsylvania PUC is tinkering with rule to boost small DER, but not too much?

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is again seeking comment on its proposed rule for home-based and farm-based "green" electricity generation. The rule, under the state’s 2004 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, is intended to stimulate alternative energy production and use by, among other things, encouraging homeowners to install solar panels and wind turbines, and farmers to install ...

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Supreme Court to review EPSA v. FERC

Supreme Court to review EPSA v. FERC

May 5, 2015 -- The US Supreme Court said Monday it will review the legality of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order No. 745 that encourages efficiency and lower costs in the electricity market by having regional transmission organizations pay retail customers to reduce consumption, called demand response (DR), at peak periods. The court said it will hear an appeal filed by the Federal Energy Reg...

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Editorials

Western utilities and agencies go regional to boost operations and policy goals

Western utilities and agencies go regional to boost operations and policy goals

Say what you will about the Environmental Protection Agency ’s proposed Clean Power Plan—and many have—it has got states and utilities thinking regionally. How can we plan and operate our systems more effectively? Could we achieve the draft plan’s carbon reductions with lower cost and less disruption than proceeding state-by-state?

Among the logical organizations to answer these questions are the inf...

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Water and wires: Canaries in the coal mine?

Water and wires: Canaries in the coal mine?

California—that unruly teenager, growthy and charming. Handsome and a bit out of control. We love it, don’t we? Some of us do. Some envy it. Some hate it. Some just disdain it. Some want to be it.

But California is us. It’s part of us. It’s where most of our entertainment comes from. More importantly, it’s where much of our food comes from. And when we see what’s happening with the state’s water, a...

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Unsolicited advice for EPA on Its Clean Power Plan: Encourage regional compliance

Unsolicited advice for EPA on Its Clean Power Plan: Encourage regional compliance

Two regional transmission organizations—PJM and MISO—were asked by their constituencies to assess whether compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon-cutting Clean Power Plan might be achieved more cost-effectively if planned on a region-wide rather than on a state-by-state basis.

Each RTO analyzed the problem preliminarily and each found that several billion dollars might be saved...

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Guest editorial: Demand response and electricity market reform: What next?

Guest editorial: Demand response and electricity market reform: What next?

Responding to the excellent paper by Peter Cappers and Andy Satchwell, “ Considerations for State Regulators and Policymakers in a Post-FERC Order 745 World ,” we want to share a conversation that transpired at a recent conference that addressed the issues of reliability in organized markets, the uncertain future for demand response, and what level of government—state or federal—should oversee it. T...

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The virtuous circle of infrastructure investment— a win, win, win proposition

The virtuous circle of infrastructure investment— a win, win, win proposition

In President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1955 State of the Union speech, he said, “A modern highway system is essential to meet the needs of our growing population, our expanding economy, and our national security.” Eisenhower led the movement to develop the interstate highway system that links the US, making vehicle travel for transportation, tourism, and the greater economy so accessible that we take...

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Three cheers for state regulators, in Connecticut and elsewhere

Three cheers for state regulators, in Connecticut and elsewhere

State utility regulators are a hard-working lot. They have a tough job and an underappreciated one.

State commission budgets and staff aren’t what they should be. Their resources are unequal to those of the companies they’re supposed to regulate.

The mind-numbing details buried in rate cases, and planning and mergers and other proceedings are not light reading.

Thus, ill-tempered remarks  from Connecti...

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