Skip to main content
Category

Utility Stuff

Utility Investors: Chillax and Find a Mirror

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff No Comments
The Energy Rant blog, in general, could be considered the sausage factory of energy efficiency; exploring the inner workings and realities of the business.  Everyone else writing about energy efficiency is talking about the delicious bratwurst and hotdogs one might get at the ballpark.  This week, however, we will explore EE from the utility shareholder perspective, in the sausage room, rather than the ballpark frank of conventional wisdom. To further define the sausage room of energy efficiency, this time I begin with a white paper by ACEEE,Policies Matter: Creating a Foundation for an Energy-Efficient Utility of the Future.  One gist...
Read More

Utility of the Future; Rebates for Load Building Anyone?

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff One Comment
The source of this week’s post about the utility of the future is this Utility Dive article about Pacific Gas and Electric’s proposed incentives for electric vehicles. The article made me think of this: liberals think big business is evil and conservatives think big government is evil.  Both are right to a large extent.  Oooh.  In my opinion, libertarians are most correct fearing crony capitalism as the unholy alliance between big government and big business.  A primary role of government is to ensure citizens are protected from fraud, embezzlement, collusion, and the seven deadly sins.  Hens and little people are...
Read More

Energy Storage v Storing Energy’s Benefits

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Utility Stuff 4 Comments
[vc_single_image image="9225" img_size="full" onclick="link_image"] As we march along with the nation’s rather massive build-out of renewable energy resources, questions emerge for how to fill the gaps when the sun sets and the wind stops blowing – i.e., when it’s nice to be outdoors, especially in the summer.  So there you have it – turn off the lights, grab a drink and go out on the deck to hang out with your friends and family.  Now there is a behavior program to get behind!  Patent underway.  Unfortunately, the discussion is focused on energy storage rather than “quality time”, a term that...
Read More

State of the Electric Utility; Get Engaged

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff No Comments
Recently, Utility Dive released its report, 2015 State of the Electric Utility – a compendium of utility company prognosticative surveys.  Findings include: Utilities will move away from vertical integration – see last week’s Utility 2.0. The biggest opportunities are distributed generation, transmission, and customer relationships. The biggest challenges include old infrastructure, old employees, and primitive regulatory models. The biggest concern is flat to declining sales. There will be more use of natural gas, wind, solar, and distributed generation. As my personal finance instructor used to say, the most likely price (trend) tomorrow is the price. First, I wanted to see...
Read More

Utility 2.0; Decoupled and Disaggregated

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff 2 Comments
A lot of people have subscribed to the Energy Rant in recent weeks, so I think a little re-introduction is in order.  Last week, the post was entitled Gamification; from a Non-Gamer.  That was unusually peaceful and friendly because I really have no beef with that since, well, innocent until found guilty (of problems).  This week, discussing Utility 2.0, I get back in the spirit of the true meaning of the Energy Rant.  What dozens of readers have expressed is the Rant goes outside the comfort zone to discuss things no one else will say – like the emperor has...
Read More

Performance Incentives for Energy Efficiency Programs; Crazy with the Cheese Whiz

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff No Comments
This report from The Edison Foundation / Institute for Electric Innovation forms the foundation of this week’s Rant.  It includes a summary of utility cost recovery mechanisms, which to this nerd, is an interesting topic. Performance incentives are of particular interest. Why do utilities run programs anyway?  Typically because they have to, either because they are required to exploit lowest-cost resources, or they are assigned goals through a process, the description of which is beyond the scope of this post.  For business, however, smart utilities know when their customers use energy efficiently. It is good for the customer, and what...
Read More

Technology Application – The Crown Jewel

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff No Comments
As I watched one of the bowl games on New Year’s Day (darned if I can remember which one), the team behind had possession of the ball around mid-field with maybe a minute to go on the clock to score a touchdown and win, or not and lose (behind by four points).  Armchair QB advice: either throw the ball over the middle far enough downfield to be worth the time that will burn off the clock, or chip away with short out patterns to get out of bounds and stop the clock.  So, what is the boneheaded call?  A lateral...
Read More

Utilities and Using Less – Making the Abstract Concrete

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff 2 Comments
The utility business is fascinating and bizarre to me, and this can only mean I’m a hapless, pathetically boring person.  But that is what it may look like to the uninformed.  It’s like soccer, baseball, or Indy car racing.  If you don’t like these games/sports, you just don’t get it. First off, from business and investor perspectives, utilities are not growth stocks, and they haven’t been for decades.  Essentially, they are like US treasuries.  I learned this in a 1989 personal finance class.  Geezers invest in utilities for the steady dividend.  Clearly, I wasn’t interested in a paltry 7% yield...
Read More

Why Is Electricity Use Flat? – A Different Look

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Government, Utility Stuff 3 Comments
As readers of this blog are sure to know, electricity consumption growth has leveled out and essentially disappeared in recent years. This is celebrated, but I say, beware of what you wish for – kind of like winning the lottery. It may seem wonderful until reality and the unintended consequences set in. But I want to do a deeper dive into why energy consumption in buildings, in particular electricity, is on the fall. As ACEEE reported back in February of this year, Why is Electricity Use No Longer Growing, efficiency is a significant contributing factor. I agree. But I also...
Read More

Electric Utility- A CEO’s Many Bosses

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff One Comment
I’ve come to realize over the course of many years that the electric utility business is fascinatingly challenging.  No other industry that I can think of has more bosses than an electric utility.  In fact, high ranking utility people promoted from Executive Vice President to President/CEO leave a job with one boss and accept a job with dozens of bosses. A utility must take orders from Washington.  Recently, the Supremes overturned a lower court ruling that effectively said, Michigan, you don’t have to listen to New Jersey to set limits on your emissions.  Now Mr. CEO, you do. [vc_single_image image="9417"...
Read More