Blackouts in PJM are a growing risk without changes reflecting new realities of winter peak demands

The lessons learned and the second-guessing prompted by the polar vortexes that walloped the Eastern U.S. twice in January taught us that the power grid in the Mid-Atlantic states needs — quickly — to recast the rules by which peak power generators can meet demand during the winter months. Peak demands, at least in the […]

Let’s face it, regulators won’t let U.S. utilities die; they SHOULD update rules to better serve customers by allocating costs to those who benefit from them

The tally of utilities and governments around the world imposing or boosting fixed charges for grid-supplied electricity is rising to make up for the decline in traditional, rate-based revenue.  In the U.S. this has been due primarily to ever-improving energy efficiency and the end of year-to-year increases in electricity usage. Now, the demand curve looks […]

How much is a homeowner’s rooftop solar system worth to civil society?

How much value should owners of rooftop solar systems receive credit for in reducing their use — and the environmental impact — of utility-generated electricity?  That is THE question Minnesota is tackling, the first state ever to do so. It is one of the most closely-watched state energy initiatives in the U.S. because of the […]

Fast Fix: Opower’s 5 Universal Truths About Utility Customers – Do You Agree?

Customer Service Week hosted a discussion this morning with Opower‘s VP-Analytics Nancy Hersch and Customer Insights Senior Manager Lauren Llewellyn about five truths about utility customers the company is finding in its quantitative and qualitative research. Since early 2012, Opower has reached beyond North America conducting this research, working now with 90+ utilities around the […]

Should Thorium Be In the Conversation About Next-Generation Nuclear Power?

There is a lot of innovative thinking about the next generation of nuclear power plants. With so many bright minds, an extensive supply chain and some far-sighted research and development work underway throughout the world, I wonder how long we’ll have to wait until a truly bigger, better, game-changing nuclear power process or technology grabs […]

Re-engineering the internal combustion engine to higher MPGs at a lower cost with fewer emissions

For all the advances with hybrid and pure electric vehicles and the attention they are grabbing, personal, commercial and government vehicles around the world will be using enormous volumes of gasoline and diesel fuel for decades to come. Investors and innovators know there is a lot of money to be made improving the efficiency of […]

Carbon Separation and Capture for Power Generation: Searching for the Holy Grail

If there is a Holy Grail of efforts around the world to maintain coal in the power generation mixes of electric utilities, the technologies offering a way to separate and capture carbon dioxide have long been at the top of scientists’ and policymakers’ agendas. But for all the attention, and the public and private dollars […]

Real-time, big-data-enabled, demand reductions becoming THE go-to smart grid app

Of all the forward-thinking at this month’s 10th annual Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid in Washington, DC and similar conferences in the U.S., one new application is appears curiously off the main radar screen. I’m talking about software that utilities can use to automatically program large-scale demand reductions in real time by […]

With demand response & distributed energy growing: how long will regulators preserve traditional utilities’ business models?

In the six months since a consultant to the Edison Electric Institute wrote a paper describing “Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business,” many utility officials, analysts, investors and consultants have been mulling over how investor-owned electric utilities may have to change principally due to the growth of demand […]

Fugitive methane emissions: the achilles’ heal of the natural gas push?

Buoyed by low prices, environmental benefits and thousands of newly created jobs, the push to produce more natural gas in the U.S. is reaching its stride thanks largely to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. But do we understand the implications, some of which might negate the environmental gains? The answer to many objective analysts is: […]