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 […]

With California Leading the Way, Energy Storage Is Ready to Earn a Real Place in Utility and Commercial Portfolios

The absence of a viable means to store a significant amount of electricity generated from renewable resources is one of the tallest hurdles limiting their growth.  After a series of financial setbacks and exhaustive regulatory deliberations, energy storage fed by renewables  is set to earn a scalable role due largely to a new mandate in […]

Updated draft rules for hydraulic fracturing deserve the chance to work

Complaints by both sides over the Obama administration’s newly updated draft rules regulating the hydraulic fracturing of shale natural gas and oil on public and Indian lands signals the Interior Department has found enough common ground to raise the bar — albeit slightly — on drilling operations. Because the updated draft rules would only apply […]

Collaborative set to forge workable rules for shale hydraulic fracturing shows promise

Led in part by Chevron, Shell, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Clean Air Task Force, these and seven other organizations are now on record having identified “shared values” in an intriguing effort to better manage the risks of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas and crude oil from shale developments throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia […]

Bloomberg to natural gas industry: stop resisting sensible regulations, join with renewables

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg used the 2013 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit near Washington, DC to prod the oil and gas industry to stop resisting efforts to forge “sensible” regulations. “We need sound regulation and we need it soon,” he said. While he’s been on the bandwagon for enabling responsible hydraulic fracturing for natural […]

Spinning “Promised Land” to move the ‘needle’ for — or against — fracking

One thing Matt Damon and colleagues are accomplishing with the new movie “Promised Land” about hydraulic fracturing is to increase the public’s understanding — even if just a little bit — of the controversial drilling technique which flushes natural gas to the surface from shale rock formations deep underground. But that’s about it. Advocates of […]

With Obama’s win, cleaner energy has another chance, but these questions loom

Just because President Obama won four more years, doesn’t mean the next four will be any easier. Sure, it’s now his legacy he is beginning to focus on. But there are tall hurdles even the election results will do to change. Renewable energy developers and suppliers have a few rays of sunshine and a more […]

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 […]

Purported smart meter fires: how power industry can get the facts, manage the risks

As dozens of U.S. utilities ramp up their deployment of smart grid programs and with them new digital / smart meters, a few meter installations reportedly are causing small fires that could undermine the trust utilities need to continue updating the nation’s 100+year-old electric system. It is not clear how many real fires have resulted […]

Committee of Chief Risk Officers seeking wholesale power “passport” for ISOs & RTOs

Ten years ago this fall, in the wake of Enron’s collapse and the California power shortage, with huge questions looming about energy “deregulation,” a handful of merchant energy companies and proactive utilities launched the Committee of Chief Risk Officers  to help energy and financial managers there get a better handle on and mitigate the myriad […]