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 About a Wiki for Clean Energy to Share Best Practices for Improving Energy Efficiency, Boosting Renewables and Reducing Emissions?

There is no shortage of ideas on how businesses, governments and households in the U.S. and other industrialized countries can become more energy efficient; same applies on how to grow cleaner supplies of energy while lowering harmful greenhouse gas emissions and doing so in ways that create sustainable jobs. There are so many ideas, in […]

Mapping Whole Communities and Homes with Thermal Images to Reduce Heat Loss

What if you could determine how much heat your home is losing, how much it’s costing you in higher energy bills and what insulation and other improvements would fix it? Oh, and you could accomplish without an energy audit, free-of-charge and from a mobile device no less? That’s the vision of Geoffrey Hay, an Associate […]

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 […]

Two FERC settlements illustrate attempts to ‘game’ demand response programs

Two settlements at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made public this year involving large civil penalties illustrate how the market for demand response (DR) services could be ‘gamed’ by artificially inflating normal levels of power consumption. In the most recent settlement, the FERC reached a consent order June 7 with the Enerwise Global Technologies […]

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 […]

Southern California Edison’s smart grid progress provides valuable lessons for utilities

With more U.S. homes receiving smart meters and more utilities deploying their smart grid infrastructures, there are handful of utilities that have made notable progress with valuable lessons to share for the rest of the industry. I’m talking primarily about CenterPoint Energy in Houston, Oklahoma Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern […]

If half of U.S. consumers don’t know what a ‘smart meter’ is, how are they supposed to engage?

That is perhaps the most interesting question raised by the latest “Consumer Pulse” research by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative. In its third survey by the Collaborative of at least 1,000 consumers throughout the U.S. since 2011 reflecting the U.S. demographics, 54% of Americans who are heads of households and at least 18 years old […]