ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM: What Cost Price Signals?

Electricity markets are failing. They are failing because they cannot overcome the distortions heaped on them by layer upon layer of regulation. Recall recent history. Virtually every state electricity deregulation program began with guaranteed electricity rate reduction or rate protection for most consumers, a strange way to inject competition based on price signals but a great way to later conclude ... Read More »

PRACTICAL PLANT ECONOMICS: Co-ops and DG…You want it, we’ll build it

Before the advent of competition, electric utilities collaborated all the time. Electric cooperatives still do. They form cooperatives for everything, such as generation and transmission (G&T), commodities supply, loans and financing, and equipment pools. The cooperative model was created when it became clear early in the electric industry’s history that the investor-owned utility (IOU) model couldn’t shake enough profit from the ... Read More »

GRID-SCALE STORAGE: DG…When the merely viable becomes the truly commercial

It is clear that the regulatory framework is evolving rapidly for distributed generation (DG) and the “transactional grid” to challenge, or perhaps more appropriately, complement the traditional centralized “big iron,” one-way paradigm of the last century. However, there’s another critical hurdle which must be overcome. DG has to evolve from a vast suite of viable and cost-effective technologies to a ... Read More »

Commentary: Paradigm shift—from ‘big iron’ to the distribution end of the value chain

Writing about the future of electricity grid operations under a new presidential administration and Congress may be fraught with foolishness. However, several broad trends are likely to continue regardless of what our new leaders decide, how angry the losing half of the electorate is, or how the new opposition party plays its losing hand. First, the de-carbonization of the generating ... Read More »

Microgrid balances variable load, NOx emissions by ‘sculpting’ supply

1. SCE’s Pebbly Beach Generating Station serving Catalina Island consists of diesel generating sets dating back to the 1920s (gray roof in middle of photo), micro-turbines and battery storage unit (facing blue diesel tanks at far right), and LPG storage tanks (four white tanks at left of oil tanks)

Southern California Edison Co’s (SCE) Pebbly Beach Generating Station serving Catalina Island (22 miles off the coastal area south of Los Angeles) was a “microgrid” decades before the term became a fixture of power-industry lexicon. That is, it is an isolated small grid serving an island community (Fig 1), distinguished from the more modern definition of a microgrid which interfaces ... Read More »

Serving the electricity industry’s next century

The electricity industry has reached a tipping point at which the distributed/transactional/no- or low-carbon electricity grid model begins to outrun the traditional bilateral centralized paradigm. The electricity “grid” is no longer a transmission and distribution system built so that monolithic regulated utilities can produce and distribute power to customers on a bilateral basis. Technological advances and incentives (especially in solar ... Read More »

The new electricity casino: Preparing your GT assets

Over a long period of time, if you are “in” the stock market on the best days, and avoid the stock market on the worst days, your overall returns are astronomically higher than if you just put you money in and go away for a few decades. This truism of playing the market has many variations but here’s one: If ... Read More »