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 […]

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 […]

Can Maryland create Utility of the Future that is more reliable & customer responsive?

That question has been posed by the now newly re-elected Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley. He is seeking a “viable method to explore the contours of the utility of the future” with a pilot program to be proposed by March 15, 2013. Utility of the future, in Maryland, you ask? That was my reaction because […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

FAST FIX: debunking 6 myths about smart meters

Courtesy of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, here are facts about smart/digital meters and six commonly circulated myths — debunked. 1. Smart meters are less accurate than analog meters. Public service commissions require meter manufacturers to supply independently certified testing results to prove that their smart meters provide accurate measurements. 2. Smart meters are a […]