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The Power Grid’s Glide Path to Reckoning

By Energy Rant No Comments
“The U.S. electrical system is becoming less dependable. The problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.” – The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2022. I can take down another one of my seven predictions for 2022. Some numbers from the WSJ: in 2000, there were fewer than two dozen major disruptions. In 2020 there were more than 180. Customers experienced over eight hours of disruption (on average) in 2020, more than double the number in 2013 when the government began tracking this metric. The Journal reports several reasons for the rickety grid. The Markets’ Disincentives for Reliability...
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Minimum Offer Price Rule

Know Grid History and the MOPR

By Energy Rant No Comments
The electric grid is the most complex beast on the planet, ever. Let’s set the table. Electricity has been inexpensive and very reliable in the US for the better part of 100 years. At first, electric utilities were hub and spoke systems that sent power from the hub (power plant) to customers around its service territory. Then, high voltage transmission systems were used to interconnect the hubs for reliability-sake, redundancy, and likely lower prices. Neighboring utilities cut deals to buy and sell power to each other to further keep prices low for their customers. And, of course, electricity sales kept...
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AMI – Good for Consumers; Good for Utilities

By Energy Rant No Comments
AMI, or advanced metering infrastructure, is rolling out across the land. This opens the door to a lot of cool things, including time of use rates, and it is a great enabler of electrification technologies. I’ve heard from utility executives or people involved with some portion of demand-side management departments within utilities that smart meters are a waste of money. Wow. They are going to be standing at the depot while the electrification train is barreling forward. I will save that topic for another day. Stay tuned. For background, here is a primer on AMI and here is a discussion...
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Regulating Deregulation and Wind’s Other Big Subsidy

By Energy Rant 3 Comments
Last week we examined the startup of deregulation, why a competitive market for electricity is difficult and early failures. This week, we look at the price impacts and some long-term implications of deregulation. It seemed to me that deregulation of the electricity market had been a disaster: bankruptcies, soaring prices, and most recently, stranded baseload assets. There was a lot of evidence in that, but lately, prices have improved, but other challenges are emerging. Deregulation’s Impact on Pricing I realized that searching for comprehensive data showing the impact on electricity costs for regulated versus deregulated is impossible. Lucky for you,...
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deregulation

Betting with Deregulation – A Risky Proposition

By Energy Rant No Comments
Energy is a commodity, and like all commodities, it is wise to hedge risk; not go the other way and place bets. Unless you are a certain presidential candidate with privileged information on cattle futures, I would stay away from betting, er investing in, commodities in general, and energy specifically. To digress for a moment, recall when gasoline cost $4 per gallon, there were all kinds of calls to investigate price gouging and rigging the market. Bill O’Reilly would ignorantly rant about the “speculators”. I said then, in 2008 just before this blog was born, that was poppycock. Senators Chucky...
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FERC 745 – The Worst Order Ever Produced?

By Energy Rant One Comment
Robert Borlick writes in Public Utilities Fortnightly that FERC Order 745 is “one of the worst orders FERC has ever produced” – “a time bomb for electricity consumers”. Whoa! I better sharpen my axes. That is a more lethal statement than I would even write, and it isn’t even in the opinion section. It’s a featured article. Let’s take this a step at a time. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is adorned with the authority to regulate “the sale of electric energy at wholesale in interstate commerce”. As noted in DC Smackdown of FERC, regulation of interstate commerce is...
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DC Circuit’s Smackdown of FERC re Demand Response

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant One Comment

I’ve written dozens of proposals, and I’ve read dozens and dozens of requests for proposals from all sorts of entities including states, local governments, private corporations, and of course, utilities.  With this comes scope of work requested, required proposal content, rules, terms and conditions, and due dates.  I always consider content of the RFP to mean what it says, and if it isn’t clear what it means, either ask a question via the process detailed in the RFP, or ignore it and work it out later, or it is a minor thing – irrelevant in the big picture. Enter the…

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