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 […]

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 […]

FAST FIX: How the Smart Grid can save households almost $600 per year

If you need to quickly grasp the potential and benefits of the emerging smart grid in the U.S., this infographic is the best effort yet.  It comes courtesy of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative and its 90+ member utilities, technology companies, non-profits, regulators and consumers advocates. Increasing the power grid’s efficiency by 9% equates to […]

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 […]

Are low-income consumers slowing smart grid progress? Hardly . . .

The answer thus far would appear to be that low-income consumers are looking forward to smarter energy offerings based on fresh data from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative. A recent survey for Collaborative sheds light on the opportunity and the challenge of engaging consumers who have annual family incomes up to $20,000 (for a family […]

Sprint-ing, not walking, the ‘talk’ to achieve sustainability goals

It’s becoming more clear every day that cleaner energy and environmental sustainability depends on private industry. The expiration of many renewable energy incentives, zero prospects for a U.S. carbon tax or a cap and trade program, restraints on public spending and the low price and growing supplies of natural gas are putting commitments to renewable […]

Green Button approaching critical mass – 27 million households now getting access to their energy data

NOW, we’re getting somewhere with the Green Button Initiative. Nine investor-owned utilities from across the country have jumped on board enabling an updated total of about 27 million households to access their electricity usage data. This is a huge step forward for motivated consumers to better understand how they can save on their energy bills […]

Smart grid apps poised to score energy savings on top of more-successful-than-expected efficiency programs

Early lessons from utilities deploying proactive smart grid programs with their customers point to potentially significant energy savings if consumers are engaged with targeted communications they find relevant to their values and lifestyles. When matched with stronger-than-expected gains being achieved through more traditional efficiency programs found in a report out this month by the Consortium […]

Virtual generation and demand response: how Constellation Energy finds energy where there wasn’t any

As operators for regional power grids such as PJM Interconnection begin to roll out more robust demand-response programs, the private sector is responding with software products that can save energy for large commercial and industrial consumers and help utilities avoid brownouts and perhaps even blackouts. One of the emerging leaders in this space — Constellation […]