Archives: Electricity

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Blockchain Goes Solar

A recent New York Times article reported on an early-stage, solar energy microgrid being formed in Brooklyn, called the Brooklyn Microgrid, that relies on blockchain technology, the innovative database technology used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that promises to transform industries as diverse as financial services, health care, retail, and manufacturing.  The blockchain-based microgrid enables neighboring … Continue Reading

NY ISO Outlines Steps For Integrating Distributed Resources

The NY Independent System Operator recently issued a plan for addressing the nuts-and-bolts issues associated with integrating distributed energy resources (DERs) into the wholesale electricity market.  The NYISO says its Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap for New York’s Wholesale Electricity Markets is “the first step in building (the) grid of the future” and seamless transition “from a … Continue Reading

FERC Clarifies Cost Recovery Flexibility for Electric Storage Resources

As part of an ongoing effort to address issues raised by, and encourage the entry of, distributed energy resources, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week issued a Policy Statement clarifying the flexibility electric storage resources have regarding rate designs to recover their costs.  FERC earlier proposed rules to remove barriers to the participation of storage … Continue Reading

Trump Executive Order Labels “Improving the U.S. Electric Grid” as a “High Priority Infrastructure Project”

Moving forward, in part, on a campaign promise to adopt an infrastructure plan to “transform America’s crumbling infrastructure,” today President Trump issued an Executive Order titled “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects.”… Continue Reading

Transforming the Nation’s Electricity System: Survivable Elements of Obama’s Policy Roadmap for the Trump Administration

Official publications of the Trump campaign and transition team propose significant changes in energy policies.   The principal focus of the proposed policy changes addresses energy independence and job creation through greater production of fossil fuel resources.  But apart from pronouncements to “scrap … the Clean Power Plan” there is little to glean from the official … Continue Reading

FERC Proposes Requiring New Generators to Provide A Grid Support Service

One factor driving the grid of the future is the change in the nation’s electric generator resource mix, such as the retirement of traditional baseload generation and an increasing proportion of variable energy resources, such as wind and solar.  This evolution has raised concern that the capability to provide “primary frequency response,” a critical grid … Continue Reading

FERC Proposes Rules to Remove Barriers to Electric Storage and Other Distributed Resources

Electricity storage resources are shaping the grid of the future.  Large-scale batteries and flywheels are now able to provide services to grid operators to help keep the bulk power system in balance.  Electric storage resources’ ability to absorb and discharge electricity provides them with significant operational flexibility, and they can be designed to provide a … Continue Reading

Grid of the Future: Opportunities, Challenges, and Solutions in Corporate Energy Procurement

Fundamental changes in the way that the electric utility and power sector operates, interacts with customers, and relates to its regulators are occurring on a massive scale and at an unprecedented pace. Covington is committed to exploring these transformations affecting the power sector, helping our clients to understand and navigate the changes, and fostering collaborations … Continue Reading

FERC Considering Changes to Standards of Review for Acquisitions and Mergers

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently launched an initiative that could result in significant changes to the standards used for analyzing whether mergers and acquisitions are in the public interest.  In a September 22, 2016 Notice of Inquiry (NOI), FERC identified several broad areas in which its current policies may need reform, made a … Continue Reading

Cybersecurity Discussions at the 2015 G-7 Summit

On Monday, the 2015 G-7 Summit ended with the President and other Leaders of the G-7 focused generally on a wide range of economic, security, and development issues, and specifically discussing the energy sector’s cybersecurity posture.  According to the White House, the Leaders “launched a new cooperative effort to enhance cybersecurity of the energy sector … Continue Reading

FERC Staff to Measure Grid Investment Effectiveness

The Department of Energy recently released a Quadrennial Energy Review that identified a pressing need for new electricity transmission facilities, among other infrastructure issues.  Encouraging new transmission investment has also been a decade-long priority policy goal of FERC reflected in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and FERC’s seminal Order No. 1000.  In furtherance of this … Continue Reading

The Impact of Distributed Generation On Electric Utilities: How Big, How Likely and How Soon?

Technological advances in distributed generation and battery storage and their consequent falling costs have the potential to significantly change the electric utility business model and regulatory policies.  While change seems likely, there are varying views on its scope, probability and timing.  Two are presented here. One perspective is that fundamental changes in the way electricity … Continue Reading

Transformative Power Technologies: Do We Need Regulation 2.0?

As discussed in a previous post, new technologies — such as distributed generation, electricity storage, and digital control and communications — are making steady inroads toward transforming the traditional role of electric utilities and their relationship to customers.  The future transformed utility is sometimes referred to as “Utility 2.0.”  While integrating new technologies into the … Continue Reading

Evolving Role of Utilities: Indicators That New Power Technologies May Be Transformative

Many forces are converging to focus the debate on the evolving role of utilities, and events and trends are being closely watched by utilities, regulators and policymakers.  Just in the last week or so, a few developments indicate that new technologies are likely to be transformative. On the innovation front, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory … Continue Reading

Wholesale Electricity Market Developments in the U.S.

Significant developments have occurred recently in wholesale electricity markets in the lower Midwest and Western regions of the U.S. Earlier this week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a substantial expansion of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).  SPP is a FERC-regulated Regional Transmission Organization that administers the grid across a nine-state footprint in the south … Continue Reading

FERC Exploring RTO/ISO Market Pricing And Operational Practices

At its recent public meeting, FERC opened a staff-led proceeding to address price formation and related issues in the RTO/ISO wholesale electricity energy markets.  Concerns with whether these organized markets are attracting appropriate levels and types of new generation capacity and the markets’ performance during last winter’s Polar Vortex have raised questions regarding their designs … Continue Reading

New York explores a “fundamental” restructuring of electric utilities

What is the structure and role of the utility of the future?  New York is initiating a regulatory process to begin answering this question. New York is considering “a substantial transformation of electric utility practices” to improve efficiency, empower customer choice and encourage greater penetration of clean generation and efficiency technologies, according to the NY … Continue Reading

Competition Inquiry into the UK Energy Market

When Labour leader Ed Miliband made a promise in September 2013 to freeze household fuel bills for 20 months if he were to win next year’s election, he instantly made energy supply and pricing one of the central election topics in the UK.  Prime Minister David Cameron’s immediate response was to cut green levies paid … Continue Reading

FERC Acts to Improve Coordination Between the Natural Gas and Electricity Industries

The increasing reliance on natural gas to fuel electricity generators has sparked a need for more coordination between the operators of gas pipelines and electricity grids. Up to now, markets and operations in the two sectors have proceeded independently, but some differences between them have become problematic. Differences are especially problematic in New England, where … Continue Reading

California Announces Timing/Process for Issuing New Regulations on Appliance Efficiency

On March 19, 2014, the California Energy Commission, the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency, announced that it was initiating a regulatory process leading to the regulation of 15 categories of consumer appliances as to usage of electricity, natural gas, and water.  This comes in part in response to the three-year drought period in … Continue Reading

FERC Acknowledges Physical Security Risks to Bulk Power System and Begins Development of Standards for Protection Against Physical Attacks

On March 7, 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) directed the North American Electric Reliability Council (“NERC”) to develop new standards for the protection of critical elements of the bulk-power system from physical attacks.  In recent years there has been considerable attention paid to the potential for cyber-attacks against the transmission grid.  Following a … Continue Reading

FERC and CFTC Launch Information Sharing MOU

Earlier this year, the CFTC and FERC announced an information sharing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two agencies. The agencies have now announced that they have begun sharing market data pursuant to this MOU.  In addition, they have created an Interagency Surveillance and Data Analytics Working Group “to coordinate information sharing between the agencies … Continue Reading
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