- The timing of carbon reduction targets will require an unprecedented shift in North America's resource mix.
- Regional solutions will be needed to respond to climate change initiatives, driven by unique system characteristics and existing infrastructure.
- the addition of new resources will increase the need for transmission and energy storage and balancing resources.
- Carbon reduction from increasing demand-side management must be balanced against potential reliability impacts.
- Climate change efforts that increasingly depend on distribution system options and applications can, in aggregate, impact bulk power system reliability
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Two related smart grid issues, growing increasingly important as smart meter rollouts move forward, are access to and ownership of individual consumer energy information contained in smart meters. See Post ## 3, 4, and 5. Given the overlap of federal and state jurisdiction of electric utilities (state regulation of local distribution, federal regulation of transmission), the question keeps recurring: just who should be write the rules.
This month, the American Public Power Association (APPA), representing more than 2,000 non-profit, publicly-owned electric utilities around the United States, called on the Department of Energy (DOE), which had solicited comments about current and future grid communications requirements, to create a privacy working group with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) to provide states with policy guidance.
NARUC, the association representing the state public service commissioners, already has a collaborative smart grid working group with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency with core federal responsibility over wholesale electric markets and electric transmission -- and which has been specifically charged by Congress to develop standards and protocols necessary to insure interstate smart grid functionality.
The proposed new DOE/NARUC advisory group would act as an alternative to more overt government actions, such as legislation or rulemakings, to address smart grid consumer data access and consumer privacy issues. According to APPA's comments, “public power utilities typically rely on state law and legal precedents, local ordinances, and guidance from their governing bodies to set policy.” APPA argues that, for the most part, privacy and data access policies should be determined at the state and local level.
At the same time, APPA recognizes the need for federal guidance is such areas as “identifying areas of agreement and disagreement regarding privacy and data access issues.” APPA asserts that the proposed NARUC/DOE group would allow DOE to provide continued support to the states by “compiling examples of policy guidelines and sample privacy policies.”
It is unclear whether APPA had previously discussed this proposal with either NARUC or DOE staff. And such collaborative efforts, especially involving a group like NARUC (with essentially at least 50 constituencies), often get bogged down by all their moving parts. Moreover, considering that a fully developed smart grid will be an interstate grid at its core, APPA may be minimizing the federal government's role.
Still, APPA is the principal proponent of public power in the United States, and its comments further highlight the continuing importance of the privacy issues presented by smart meters.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Liberal Party spokesman Michael O'Brien now says that the Brumby administration “persisted with the rollout, in clear breach of the commitment given to the Auditor-General and the people of
Monday, July 12, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
In an interesting development, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio last week approved implementation of a smart grid project by FirstEnergy Corporation. However, because the PUCO declined to act on the company’s request for associated retail rate increases, FirstEnergy’s
Coming on the heals of the Maryland Public Service Commission’s rejection of Baltimore Gas and Electric’s request for smart meter cost recovery (see Post # 25), this may be evidence of heightened regulatory sensitivity to shifting smart grid costs from utilities to their customers.
To return to FirstEnergy, on June 30, 2010 the PUCO approved the company’s Smart Grid Modernization Initiative – a three-year pilot program involving 44,000 customers in the service territory of the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (a FirstEnergy subsidiary). The program would credit participating customers for power they did not use during times of high demand for two weeks in the summer. The credits would be calculated at electric rates up to seven times higher than standard rates.
But there is a catch. The program also involves the purchase and installation of expensive and sophisticated smart meters, switching equipment, and communications devices. The total projected price of the pilot program is over $70 million, and while FirstEnergy won $36 million in project funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the company sought to recover the remaining costs through retail rate mechanisms. However, while approving the project itself, the PUCO elected to hold off addressing cost recovery issues until some future time. In response – and almost before the ink was dry on the PUCO’s June 30th order – FirstEnergy suspended the project (see here, here, and here).
In announcing the suspension, the company argued that the project “has potential benefits for our customers and would bring capital investments and jobs to our region.” Given “the widespread support we received for our federal stimulus application,” FirstEnergy also expressed surprise that the PUCO declined the company’s request for an associated rate increase. FirstEnergy said that “without [PUCO] approval of the matching funds, we are not in a position to move forward.”
But consumer groups had argued that further study was required to ensure that smart grid costs are allocated on the basis of kwh use – because, in the judgment of many consumer advocates, larger customers benefit most from a reliable distribution grid. Consumer groups also asserted that FirstEnergy should not receive lost revenues during this pilot program because FirstEnergy will not likely have any during the pilot program. They also argued that FirstEnergy should be required to credit its operational savings against the costs of the program before FirstEnergy collects any of the costs from customers (see, for example, the comments filed with the PUCO by
Certainly, the current PUCO/FirstEnergy stalemate is one more indication that the journey to smart grid nirvana is still very much at the starting point. As utilities move forward with actual smart grid implementation, regulators will ultimately have to address the key question: who pays?