Electricity Policy

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Last updateThu, 29 Sep 2016 7pm

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Surfing the EV Wave: Will We Smooth the Way?

Surfing the EV Wave: Will We Smooth the Way?

By Leah Parks

The pace of electric vehicle adoption may be faster or slower than we expect. But EVs catch buyers’ imaginations, with a ride and torque like no other car we’ve ever driven, we must be ready to integrate and make good use of them.
T

he age of electric vehicles has been slow to arrive, held down in part by buyers waiting for the technology to mature, for EV prices to come down, and for the cost of owning and operating oil-fueled vehicles to be less attractive.  But it is surely coming. 

 

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A Revolution in Power: Where We’ve Come from, Where We’re Headed

A Revolution in Power:  Where We’ve Come from, Where We’re Headed

By L. Lynne Kiesling and Dick Munson

State initiatives demonstrate a growing awareness that public policy must change to keep up with and encourage technological change. New players entering the industry are demonstrating the power of markets to stimulate investment and innovation. 
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oogle used to be simply a leading internet search company, but it entered the electricity business by buying big blocks of renewable energy for its large data centers, and by acquiring Nest, the maker of smart thermostats and home devices. It sees opportunity and profits in using innovative technologies to help buildings better manage their energy use.

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It Takes a Portfolio: A Broad Spectrum of Policies Can Best Halt Climate Change

It Takes a Portfolio: A Broad Spectrum of Policies Can Best Halt Climate Change

 By Jeffrey Rissman

Market failures, political barriers, and other challenges help illustrate why many policies affect only limited segments of the economy. A broad spectrum of policies designed to overcome these market flaws can better arm policy makers with the tools they need to tackle climate change.
P

olitical consensus is coalescing around the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gases and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, but little agreement exists on which policies should be used to reduce emissions.  Regulatory policies like the Clean Power Plan and vehicle fuel economy standards require states or businesses to satisfy certain performance outcomes, while “market-based” policies incentivize emissions reductions by economic means, primarily taxes and subsidies.  Both types of policy are needed to make the transition to a clean energy system with superior economic outcomes.

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Charge Without a Cause? Assessing Electric Utility Demand Charges on Small Consumers

Charge Without a Cause?  Assessing Electric Utility Demand Charges on Small Consumers

 By Paul Chernick, John T. Colgan, Rick Gilliam, Douglas Jester, and Mark LeBel

Imposing demand charges to which customers cannot properly respond and that have no relationship to controlling utility costs would be ineffective and punitive. There are simpler, better means to achieve desired objectives.

Introduction & Overview

T

here has been significant recent attention to the possibility of including demand charges in electricity rates charged to residents and small businesses. Electric utilities historically have served these small customers under a two-part rate structure comprised of a fixed monthly customer charge that recovers the cost of connecting to the grid and an energy charge (or charges) that recover all other costs. Much of this attention to the issue of demand charges for small customers has been initiated by electric utilities reacting to actual or potential reductions in sales, revenue and cost recovery. 

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Bill Effects of Demand-Based Rates on Commonwealth Edison Residential Customers

Bill Effects of Demand-Based Rates on Commonwealth Edison Residential Customers

 By Jeff Zethmayr

A frequent rationale for demand-based rates is the utility assertion that they should reflect customer cost-causation. More analysis is needed to test this assertion, incorporating data from utilities’ cost of service studies and comparing it to individual usage and bill effects.

 

T

he tension between revenue security, fairness of cost allocation, and consumers’ control over their bills has long dominated the utility rate design policy discussion. Nationwide, many utilities have pushed for straight-fixed-variable (“SFV”) rate designs,  which increase the fixed portion of customers’ delivery bills. Consumer, environmental, and low-income advocates have resisted this push because higher fixed charges increase bills for lower-use customers, while lower SFV volumetric charges reduce incentives for energy efficiency measures.

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Electricity Daily

Natl. Grid moves to demonstrate how New York REV platform could work

Natl. Grid moves to demonstrate how New York REV platform could work

September 30, 2016 -- New York’s first real-world test of its vision of a platform to link customer-owned energy assets to an energy and grid services marketplace has launched in Buffalo, N.Y., Greentech Media reported Wednesday. On Tuesday, utility National Grid   announced it’s working with Opus One Solutions to field-test a distributed system platform (DSP)—the term created by the state’s R...

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Md. PSC initiates process to determine how the grid may best serve the public

Md. PSC initiates process to determine how the grid may best serve the public

The Maryland Public Service Commission is initiating a public process aimed at determining how the state's electric distribution systems may be improved. It plans to initiate a series of public meetings, perhaps as soon as December, about topics such as supply and power management options for consumers, power affordability, and ways technology may improve electric service. The PSC may have in mind a...

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Nev. task force wants more net metering, $25 minimum bill…and, yes, compromise

Nev. task force wants more net metering, $25 minimum bill…and, yes, compromise

On Tuesday, Nevada’s New Energy Industry Task Force, assembled by Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), voted to approve earlier draft recommendations which call for restoring net metering, with customers who install solar systems compensated by NV Energy at its retail rate. The task force also suggested a minimum bill of up to $25 per month as an interim measure “to resurrect the residential and small commercial ...

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OECD: With CO2 emissions so cheap, innovation, growth, productivity are lost

OECD: With CO2 emissions so cheap, innovation, growth, productivity are lost

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a report Monday saying that most carbon emissions around the world are priced too low—if they are priced at all—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming. The 174-page report , which analyzed OECD countries responsible for some 80% of global CO2 emissions, found a major gap between today’s carbon pricing policies...

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GE will deploy its new wind turbine in Germany with pumped storage in towers

GE will deploy its new wind turbine in Germany with pumped storage in towers

GE Renewable Energy has signed a turbine supply agreement with Max Bogl Wind AG to deliver and commission the world’s tallest and first-ever wind turbine integrated with pumped storage hydroelectric power. According to GE, the full scope of the Gaildorf project, located in southwest Germany’s Swabian-Franconian Forest, will consist of four units of GE’s new 3.4-137 wind turbine technology and a 16 MW...

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Western grid operations face a major transition—with some potential benefits

Western grid operations face a major transition—with some potential benefits

By Bill Henry

September 29, 2016—Western grid operators have been slow to adopt real-time technology that can monitor system conditions for reliability and identify safe power transfer levels across the expansive Western grid. But today pressure is building to reform legacy procedures that have been in place for decades. First, the 2011 Southwest blackout spurred a push by the North American Electri...

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Editorials

Good news comes slowly. The long, inevitable rise of the electric vehicle

Good news comes slowly. The long, inevitable rise of the electric vehicle

Are electric vehicle sales in the US likely to poke along, growing slowly but lacking the acceleration in sales that the cars possess on the road? Or are they headed for a bust-out year, as buyers discover their quickness and easy, clean operation.

EV sales could be explained by the typical S-curve of adoption: a slow start, with only early adopters and niche markets buying. Then, more rapid growth...

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Renewables or nuclear: What’s the vision?

Renewables or nuclear: What’s the vision?

The public policy community is solidly on board with the proposition that we must stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But it’s not enough that we simply reduce the level of emissions. Rather, as soon as practicable, we must curb fossil fuel emissions in every sector of our economy—in the transportation (now the chief emitter) and buildings sectors, as well as the energy sector.

That...

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Replacing Diablo Canyon with safer, more flexible options is a better choice

Replacing Diablo Canyon with safer, more flexible options is a better choice

Michael Shellenberger , an acclaimed environmentalist and co-founder of the pro-nuclear Breakthrough Institute , is determined to make Californians and the world see the error in a joint proposal’s plan to close the 2,200 Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. Shellenberger and his allies go so far as to claim that nuclear energy is “clean energy.”

There is a broad global consensus climate change must be checked ...

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Will distributed resources end the distribution natural monopoly? If so, then what?

Will distributed resources end the distribution natural monopoly? If so, then what?

The electricity industry seems to be plagued by a multitude of “interesting problems.” They’re problems that can’t—or at least shouldn’t –be ignored. While after nearly 40 years we are still grappling with the consequences of the energy supply sector of the industry becoming competitive, with passage of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (as evidenced by several excellent panels in FERC’s t...

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What decided Diablo Canyon’s fate?

What decided Diablo Canyon’s fate?

As an outsider, weighing the things known and not known behind PG&E’s decision to retire its two-unit, 2,240-MW Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, shocking as it was, in the end it wasn’t surprising.

Among the things that are both known—and unknown—about the remaining years for California’s last surviving nuclear plant are these:

Relicensing . As the project’s existing licenses expire in November 2024 ...

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Rethinking the climate change challenge from a deeper, wider position

Rethinking the climate change challenge from a deeper, wider position

Cambridge University engineering professor M.J. Kelly has written a paper that challenges much of today’s accepted wisdom about the climate change threat.

It addresses that problem but also steps back from it to look into the abyss posed by a related problem: the need to supply a growing, changing world with energy and how best to do it—thoughtfully and conscientiously.

Reading the paper was unsettlin...

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