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Quarantining the utility: State regulators should adopt a competitive retail electricity market 2.0

EDITORIAL: We’re way past due for a competitive retail electricity market 2.0. On a whim I answered the phone despite knowing it was a telemarketing call. The robocaller invited me to press 1 if I wanted to save 30 percent on my electricity bill. The invitation was too good to pass up. I was soon patched through to a man who identified himself as being with the “supply department” for my local utility company. I asked him to confirm what he said, that he was calling from my local utility, which I knew to be a lie. He repeated the misrepresentation and asked me to get a copy of my electricity bill. He hung up on me as I scolded him for scamming people.

The next day I answered the phone again, this time a woman invited me to save 10 percent on my electricity bill. I was entitled to the savings because of a state law, she said. The telemarketer, reading from a script, got flustered as I interrupted her to ask that she repeat her introductory misrepresentation that she was calling from my local utility provider. She returned to her script and asked me to get a copy of my electricity bill. I put the phone down while I attended to something else, determined to waste as much of her time as possible.

When I returned to the phone and told her I couldn’t find my bill, she patched me through to her supervisor. When I asked the supervisor to confirm that she was with my utility company, she admitted she wasn’t and attributed the initial misrepresentation to that person, who was clearly reading from a script, being new to the job. She said if I could just get my utility customer number she could see to enabling me to obtain a 10 percent savings in electricity. So if she wasn’t with my utility company, who did she represent, I asked. “Choice Energy,” she replied.

So I asked, since she wasn’t representing my utility provider, if having Choice Energy provide me with a 10 percent savings on electricity wouldn’t require me to enter into a contract. She said there was no contract involved. There would be no signup fee or cancellation fee either, she said. After some more pointless dissembling I lost patience and hung up without bothering to explain that a contract is the predicate for signup and cancellation fees.

When you go to the website for Choice Energy, the tag line is “America’s Trusted Choice.” Headquartered in Iowa, I reached Mike Needham, the company’s owner. He said the company wasn’t marketing in my area, and wasn’t even licensed to be a supplier in my state. He suggested it might be another company, based in Houston, which has “choice energy” in its name, or another company altogether. “We’ve received complaints similar to this in the past,” he said. Calls to the Houston-based company were not returned.

These experiences aren’t unique to my area or me. State regulators in several states where consumers can choose among competing energy suppliers – particularly Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York – are increasingly alarmed by these sorts of misrepresentations by marketers. After gaining the trust of the customer, either at the door or over the phone, these marketers, once they’ve obtained the utility customer number, switch the customer to another supplier, either with some form of consent or without their knowledge. There may actually be a savings involved for a few months, but then the price gets jacked up and the customer ends up paying more for electricity than if they’d stayed with the default service of their utility company.

This is a huge problem that threatens the future of retail electricity competition and the great promise of competition-driven innovation in products and services. In many cases the competitive electricity supplier doesn’t even necessarily know these questionable marketing practices are happening. They typically contract out the marketing effort, and the marketing contractor engages marketers on a commission basis, providing a financial incentive for playing fast and loose.

At the recent conference, “Growing the Power Business & Cutting Carbon Emissions,” sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, Pennsylvania Consumer Advocate Tanya McCloskey cited concerns about “false and misleading marketing” and called on competitive suppliers to be part of the solution.

That’s fair but too many policymakers are painting the entire industry with a broad brush. Rather than take meaningful steps to reform the utility-dominated market structure, which in most states utilizes a 20-year-old market model badly in need of a major revamp, they have proposed shutting down entirely the residential customer market except for municipal aggregation. In the end that will deprive consumers of not only their right to choose, but will blunt the wave of innovation in electricity products and services policy makers can enable by quarantining the utility from the competitive marketplace.

The current model for retail electricity competition, employed by all the states with competitive retail choice except for Texas, makes utility service the default option that customers receive unless they choose to purchase from a competitive supplier. The incentive to shop is muted since the utility is purchasing power on behalf of its default customers in the wholesale power market and passing that product through at cost. The utility can do this because it is making money from its monopoly-regulated transmission and distribution services. And if it makes a mistake or the wholesale power market takes a twist it didn’t anticipate, the utility can go to state regulators and ask to be made whole through regulated rates.

These are not options that competitive retail suppliers have. They, too, must obtain power for their customers in the wholesale market, but they don’t have transmission and distribution wires with monopoly-guaranteed rates that allow them the luxury to provide power at cost. They have no recourse if they bet wrong on the market price. And the utility doesn’t incur any marketing costs to obtain its commanding share of the market. Given this, it is wholly unfair and unreasonable to compare the rates of competitive suppliers with the price of default service, as all too many state officials are doing.

Further, competitive suppliers are often relegated to a line item on the utility bill, and that line item may not even list the supplier by name. The ability of competitive suppliers to interact with their customers through the bill is virtually nonexistent, hindering their ability to offer value-added products and services that differentiate the supplier from their competitors.

We need to find a better way. Yes, competitive suppliers can and must do more to police their ranks and help regulators oversee the marketplace. In particular, they must move beyond simply offering free airline miles as an example of innovation in the marketplace. But the unfair and anticompetitive market structure used in all the competitive states except Texas needs a major overhaul. We need a competitive retail electricity market 2.0. Only once the market power-wielding utility is quarantined from the market will electricity consumers begin to enjoy a truly competitive market offering innovation and value beyond simply providing electrons.

By moving to a competitive retail electricity market 2.0 state officials will unleash the same kind of sweeping innovation we saw in telecommunications, which led to incredible technological change benefiting consumers and the economy as a whole. Today’s electricity system is the equivalent of a black rotary phone with a wire running into the wall. We need to move to an electricity equivalent of the smart phone. If we do, we’ll not only unleash unquantifiable economic benefits, but sweeping clean energy development and energy efficiency that benefits the environment as well.

Yes, competitive energy suppliers can and must do more to police their ranks. But state policy makers must move beyond a decades-old market design that helps perpetuate problems for consumers and adopt a competitive retail electricity market 2.0. Retreating to failed monopoly-regulated rates for residential consumers is a betrayal of consumers and a recipe for inefficient clean-energy development.

[Disclosure: The writer formerly was a consultant to the Retail Energy Supply Association.]

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Electric Industry News, April 18, 2018

Democratic gubernatorial candidates oppose Nevada electricity choice ballot question.  Nevada’s top two Democratic gubernatorial candidates have announced their opposition to the voter initiative on November’s ballot that would open the state’s monopoly-protected electricity sector to competition, Riley Snyder reports in the Nevada Independent.

Clark County commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani both confirmed with the publication that they planned to vote against the Energy Choice Initiative, despite having voted in favor of it when the matter first came before voters in 2016. The measure, adopted then by more than 70 percent of those voting, must receive voter approval a second time before the state’s constitution can be amended to permit electricity choice.

Despite prior comments in favor of the ballot question, it is perhaps unsurprising that Sisolak announced his opposition at an AFL-CIO conference earlier this week. Unions have long been opposed to competitive electricity reforms, which they see as a threat to union jobs.

“After listening to the concerns of Nevadans across the state, I believe Question 3 is harmful to Nevada and I cannot support it,” Sisolak said in a statement provided the Nevada Independent. “I have long had concerns about the negative impact the initiative could have on consumers, labor, the environment and our economy. Question 3 risks the reliability of our electricity system, threatens the jobs of hardworking men and women and could slow our growing renewable energy sector. It provides too much risk without guaranteeing rewards of lower rates for consumers.”

A spokesman for Giunchigliani told Snider the former state lawmaker “opposed deregulation in the Assembly, and she’s seen this experiment hurt consumers and jobs. As she said previously, she has serious concerns that this would hurt ratepayers again and these concerns have not been addressed. She will not be supporting this initiative this year.”

Yes on 3 spokesman Bradley Mayer predicted voters “will not be swayed by special interest groups that are pressuring candidates” to oppose the ballot measure.

Snider writes that the leading Republican gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Adam Laxalt, has previously indicated he would supports the ballot question.

“With the absence of a competitive energy market in Nevada, we deny our customers the freedom to lower their electricity costs,” Laxalt reportedly said at a National Energy Marketers Association meeting in Las Vegas last year. “And that is why we must open our energy market to consumers both large and small.”


FERC commissioners promise to address coal state lawmakers’ concerns. An appearance by all five Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members before a House oversight panel on Capitol Hill allowed coal-state lawmakers to express their support for out-of-market interventions to stem an ongoing wave of coal-fired power plant closures.

The FERC commissioners received pointed questions regarding a unanimous decision earlier this year rejecting a proposed rule forwarded by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would have forced consumers to subsidize uneconomic coal and nuclear power plants in the nation’s competitive wholesale electricity markets.

Veteran energy reporter John Siciliano reports in the Washington Examiner that lawmakers “hounded” the FERC commissioners over the issue of power plant subsidies, with lawmakers from West Virginia unsurprisingly at the forefront.

Rep. David McKinley, a West Virginia Republican, cited FirstEnergy’s efforts to move its Pleasants County, W.Va., merchant power plant into ratebase, a move that West Virginia state regulators found was not in ratepayers’ interests. McKinley said that absent federal support the plant likely will shut down with devastating economic consequences for plant workers and the county’s tax revenues.

“If this power plant closes down, [there’s a] very high likelihood that the coal producer that supplies that power plant will similarly declare bankruptcy,” McKinley said. “Wouldn’t it be more efficient and prudent to try to find a vehicle, a means [under the Federal Power Act or] some modification of that, so we can keep some of our marginal power plants operative?” Siciliano quotes McKinley asking the FERC regulators.

The FERC commissioners defended their decision to reject the proposed rule forwarded by the Trump administration, and pointed to a pending fact-finding initiative they launched instead to weigh concerns about maintaining grid “resiliency” should baseload coal and nuclear plants be supplanted by intermittent resources like wind and solar, and by natural gas-fired plants with what coal and nuclear supporters argue have supply dependency and price volatility concerns.

FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre called the resiliency question “one of the trickiest areas” the commission is engaged with, Jasmin Melvin writes for S&P Global Platts.  But those concerns are “very much within the scope of the matters that we will be looking at as we make our decisions going forward,” he promised the House lawmakers.

“I think, over the course of time, Secretary Perry will be proven right,” Melvin quoted Neil Chatterjee, who otherwise defended FERC’s decision rejecting the Energy Secretary’s rule proposal. “We are going to ultimately have resilience challenges in this country, and we need to be prepared for them. I think this [pending FERC] docket will allow for that.”


See also:

Closing nuclear power plants would increase air pollution: report


N.C. high court judges hear arguments on challenge to Duke’s monopoly. Lawyers representing a clean-energy advocacy group that installed a rooftop solar system on a Greensboro church as a challenge to Duke’s monopoly status in North Carolina argued before the state Supreme Court that their client, NC WARN, is not selling electricity to the public, just to the church.

NC WARN’s attorney, Matthew Quinn, argued that for the group to be a utility it has to sell electricity to the public. A single contract with the Greensboro church does not constitute selling to the public, he argued, according to various published accounts.

“NC WARN is not interested in selling power. NC WARN is engaged in an altruistic program designed to combat the climate crisis,” the Associated Press’ Emergy Dalesio quoted Quinn arguing before the court’s seven justices.

“This is not altruistic,” Lisa Sorg, writing for Progressive Policy Watch, quoted Duke Energy attorney Dwight Allen. “NC WARN is trying to be a utility.”

The argument did not appear convincing with one of the court’s judges, based on questions he reportedly asked in response to Quinn’s arguments.

“Part of this project is to do multiple replications of this approach. So to say, ‘well it’s just one,’ what about the next one?” AP quoted Justice Paul Newby, who also questioned how NC WARN can claim it wasn’t selling electricity when the contract was called a power purchase agreement. “It seems to me you’re wanting us to ignore the expressed language of the agreement,” Newby said.

At one point, Quinn referred to “the sale of power,” according to Travis Fain, WRAL statehouse reporter.

“I’m not sure you meant to say that,” interrupted Sam J. Ervin IV, one of the elected Supreme Court judges hearing the arguments. Ervin is a former North Carolina utility regulator and chaired the electricity committee for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. He is the grandson of former U.S. Sen. Sam Ervin who played a prominent role in the Watergate hearings.




Another major oil company makes significant investment in electricity. Following on the heels of Shell’s investments in Europe’s electricity sector, France’s Total announced yesterday it has acquired a significant stake in French utility company Direct Energie. It seems clear that fossil fuel producers are looking ahead to a future world in which electric vehicles and other transitional technologies make oil less of a cash cow for shareholders. Clearly this expectation of declining demand for oil also is driving reforms by Saudi Arabia’s leadership.

“Big Oil’s move into the European power market shows the majors are preparing for a future in which fossil fuels are diminished in the energy mix and consumers demand charging points alongside gasoline pumps at fueling stations. For Total, it’s also part of a plan to add customers for its growing natural-gas production and to increase control of its distribution,” writes Bloomberg’s Francois De Beaupuy.

“We now have, among the European oil majors, an unexpected battle emerging for market share in western European gas and power,” Beaupuy quotes Rob West, an analyst at Redburn Europe Ltd. “It is fascinating.”

The question for now is when will we see similar moves into the U.S. electricity sector?


Justice Dept. says Minnesota transmission siting law unconstitutional. Minnesota state law favoring transmission line development by incumbent state-regulated utilities over out-of-state developers is unconstitutional, the federal Justice Department said in a court filing.

Mike Hughlett reports in the Minneapolis Star Tribune regarding a brief filed in support of a legal challenge by LSP Transmission Holdings, which was denied an opportunity to build a transmission line due to a 2012 state law providing utilities a right of first refusal in transmission line development.

LSP wanted to build a 40-mile power line connecting an Xcel substation with a planned substation. Although LSP owns more than 500 miles of transmission, none of it is in Minnesota, so under state law Xcel Energy and ITC Midwest LLC had “first dibs” on the project, Hughlett writes. LSP is challenging the law on interstate commerce grounds, and the Justice Department has now weighed in in agreement.

“Minnesota’s right of first refusal law has an unconstitutional discriminatory effect because it favors in-state entities,” the Justice Department brief said, asserting that the law “causes substantial anticompetitive effects in interstate commerce.”


Other news items of note:

State-federal concerns could dim FERC’s landmark storage order

Wider access to a variety of markets has been hailed as the basis for energy storage growth, but state concerns could thwart an overarching solution.

FERC Affirms Broad Jurisdiction Over Energy Efficiency Resources, Participation

N.H. energy strategy shifts from subsidizing renewables to lowering rates

New N.H. energy plan likes nuclear power, worries about electricity rates, isn’t too interested in trains

N.H. Gov. Sununu cites high electric rates, releases energy plan

Another View – N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu: A new energy strategy for New Hampshire

Illinois Commerce Commission allows co-op customers to participate in 30% cash back program for solar

Ruling means cash-back incentive not restricted to IOU customers

Virginia moves closer to increasing clean energy

SB 966, signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, has the potential to accelerate advanced energy in Virginia, saving money for customers and boosting job growth, Harrison Godfrey, executive director of Virginia Advanced Energy Economy, writes in the Virginian-Pilot.

Nebraska clean energy activists seek path around Legislature

Activists are pitching a clean power plan directly to utilities instead of trying to sell state lawmakers on it.

Missouri utilities question data collection recommendations in DER report

Grafton, Mass., sees cost savings from aggregation contract

Changes promised for Calif. wildfire bill that sparked utility spending fears

California lawmakers pave path for higher electricity, gas bills

Duquesne Light seeks rate increase for 600,000 customers in Pa.

Sunoco proposes changes to Mariner East 2 construction in Chester County; Pa. DEP sets public hearing

U.S. Wind Power Slows Thanks to Tax Policy Meant to Boost It

  • Turbine installations in 2017 fell 14% to 7 gigawatts
  • Congress extended tax credit, easing pressure on developers

Daily on Energy: Is Trump on a climate collision course with Japan, France?


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Electric Industry News, April 17, 2018

Today’s lede: Maine officials advocate steps to tamp down rising utility T&D costs. There is a roiling debate under way in Maine regarding rising electricity costs, and rising utility rates for transmission and distribution are a key factor, the state’s public advocate and a former director of Gov. Paul LePage’s energy office point out in the Bangor Daily News. See “Costly infrastructure is driving up Maine’s electricity costs”.

The economically troubling rising cost of electricity is “driven by more and more costly wires, poles and substations. This is a burden on Maine’s economy and households, and plans for further grid build-out at ratepayers’ expense keep coming, with [Central Maine Power] announcing a $214 million expansion for electricity infrastructure in Greater Portland in March,” observe Barry Hobbins and Ken Fletcher.

Hobbins is Maine’s public advocate and a former state legislator, where he co-chaired the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. Fletcher, a former executive in Maine’s paper industry and director of the governor’s energy office, is chairman of the board for the Efficiency Maine Trust. Fletcher also is a former Maine legislator with energy experience.

“Under state and federal regulations, monopoly utilities like CMP earn a guaranteed rate of return for spending ratepayer money on new wires and poles, creating a clear financial interest in making sure we have plenty of wires and poles to keep lights on but discouraging creative and cheaper alternatives to wires and poles,” the two write.

They fault Maine utility regulators for dragging their feet in implementing the Legislature’s 2009 smart grid framework and for “the rather stunning decision” last year to put the state’s utilities in charge of developing alternatives to wires infrastructure development.

They cited a pilot project in Boothbay Harbor where a $6 million investment in a combination of energy efficiency, distributed solar, storage and other alternatives to new wires was undertaken as an alternative to CMP’s proposal to build a new $18 million transmission line that would have cost consumers $75 million over the life of the transmission line. “There may be many more opportunities to capture this kind of savings, but they face big barriers, including those stemming from utilities’ financial interests,” Hobbins and Fletcher write.

“The electricity grid of the future won’t be — or shouldn’t be — the same as the grid of the past,” they write. “New and exciting technologies provide a powerful collection of alternatives to new wires, from the latest versions of well-known technologies like energy efficiency to rapidly emerging technologies like battery storage, distributed generation and sophisticated information tools to monitor and control demand for power. Many of these technologies give consumers more control and choice, and they can have a lower cost than new wires and poles.”

The two supported a formal recommendation by the commission’s professional staff to designate an independent coordinator to identify and propose lower cost alternatives to utility investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure. “[W]e should have an independent party with no financial interest in wires and poles to analyze and develop lower-cost alternatives to wires and poles.”

They called for amending LD 1487, An Act to Control Electricity Transmission Costs through the Development of Nontransmission Alternatives, now pending before the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, to establish such a “policy of independence and assign a group of stakeholders, including utilities and Efficiency Maine, to recommend how the details should work. This proposal would provide a bit more competition in an otherwise monopolistic arena.”

The issue is apparently not lost on state utility regulators, as evidenced by a passing comment made by Commissioner Carla Peterman of the California Public Utilities Commission during the recent National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners meeting in Washington, D.C. “As generation costs go down, we see transmission costs go up,” Peterman observed.

See also:

Central Maine Power responds to higher-than-average electricity bills

Answers can only be found through examining electricity use at each individual property


Viridity installs 1MW Johnson Controls battery at N.J. water treatment plant. Viridity Energy has installed a Johnson Controls one megawatt capacity battery at an Atlantic County Utilities Authority water treatment facility in New Jersey, Michelle Brunetti writes in the Press of Atlantic City. The electricity storage plant is being operated by Viridity under a 20-year agreement, and provides frequency regulation to the competitive wholesale power market operated by PJM Interconnection.

“Every two seconds we are putting in or taking out energy,” Viridity’s Paul Reed notes. “We respond to a signal PJM sends to operators.”

The battery augments the 7.5 megawatts of wind power and a 500-kilowatt photovoltaic solar field at the authority’s site, which altogether supply about 60 percent of the plant’s energy needs, Brunetti writes. “On the most energy-consuming days, usually the hottest, the battery will stop doing frequency regulation and start providing power to the wastewater treatment plant, so it can avoid paying the higher peak demand rates.” This offsets electricity demand the plant would otherwise take from the grid, Reed notes.



See also:

Ormat‘s Viridity to Begin Construction of 40MWh Energy Storage Systems in New Jersey

Energy Storage Systems Expected To Be Operational In Late 2018


Cape Cod official calls for more Massachusetts offshore wind development. Stable, responsible development of a wind power industry off the coast of Massachusetts that achieves the full potential requires developing multiple projects concurrently and accelerating the schedule for power purchase agreement solicitations, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross writes in The Barnstable Patriot.

More than 2,000 megawatts of new offshore wind development has been proposed by Vineyard Wind, Bay State Wind and Deepwater Wind in the Federal Wind Energy Area more than 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard was molded with community engagement that minimized fishing, recreation, transportation, viewsheds and environmental impacts, the commentary observes.

“By ensuring robust competition and diversity in the offshore wind industry from the start, the Commonwealth will pay decades worth of dividends into the state’s economy long after the first turbines are spinning,” Northcross writes.

See also:

New study finds that the market value of offshore wind varies significantly along the U.S. east coast


More news items of note:

Tesla Is Temporarily Shutting Down Model 3 Production. Again.

During the pause, workers can choose to use vacation days or stay home without pay. This is the second such temporary shutdown in three months for a vehicle that’s already significantly behind schedule.

Tesla production pause adds to Model 3 concerns

The Economic Impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States

The Analysis Group’s Review of RGGI’s Third Three-Year Compliance Period (2015-2017)

The Yin and Yang of Bitcoin

Deregulation of U.S. power markets once made electricity the most volatile commodity in history. Could regulation be bitcoin’s yin to electricity’s yang?

Solar ownership still tilts towards high income, but evolving

An analysis of more than 800,000 solar installations has found that the median income of pv adopters is $32,000 per year higher than the median of all households, but the median income of buyers is on a downward trend.

ComEd Files for $23 Million Decrease in Customer Electric Rates in Illinois

Customer Reliability Improves by 50 Percent and the Average Residential Bill Remains Stable

Galesburg, Il., aldermen approve new contract for energy aggregation

Illinois town officials warn residents about electricity solicitors.

FERC rejects CAISO’s proposals to modify capacity procurement

California wildfire bill could lead to overspending, group warns

California bill aimed at wildfires effectively bans clean energy that may help prevent them

North Carolina approves solar rebate, coal ash fine for Duke

Boston shares RFI responses for municipal electricity aggregation program

Why Berkshire Hathaway’s utility is aiming for 100 percent renewable energy

Voltus Secures More Than 600 MWs of Demand Response in MISO for 2018

Up to $30,000/MW-Year Available for Customers

Most MISO zones clear capacity auction at $10/MW-day

The case for C&I storage investigated

Integrated Single Electricity Market delayed by IT issues

The start date for Ireland’s new single electricity market has been delayed for three months due to IT issues

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Electric Industry News, April 16, 2018

Today’s lede: N.C. high court to hear group’s challenge to Duke’s monopoly protection. The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in a case challenging a ruling by the state’s Utilities Commission that Duke’s monopoly status under state law bars the installation of solar panels on a church by a third-party provider, the Associated Press’s Emery Dalesio reports. NC WARN, a clean energy advocacy group, is challenging the ruling, which resulted in a $60,000 fine imposed by the commission.

“If the group prevails, it could put new pressure on Duke Energy’s monopoly. State regulators say a ruling for NC WARN would allow companies to install solar equipment and sell power on site, shaving away customers and forcing Duke Energy to raise rates on everyone else,” Dalesio writes.

According to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, the Tarheel State is one of only nine states that explicitly bar residential consumers from buying electricity generated by solar panels on their rooftop from a third party that owns the system. North Carolina law allows purchased or leased solar panels, but not payments simply for the power they generate, as is the situation in the case involving NC Warn. The group said it defied state regulators in a test case to challenge Duke Energy’s monopoly-protected status.

In court filings leading up to tomorrow’s oral arguments, the Utilities Commission painted NC WARN’s action as a threat to stable rates for customers that don’t opt to install photovoltaic panels to self-generate.  If allowed, the installation would set a precedent in which “the customers with the highest profit potential, such as commercial and industrial customers with large energy needs and ample rooftop space,” Robert Josey, an attorney for the Public Staff, the state’s official utilities consumer advocate, told the court. The result would be a decline in power sales for Duke resulting in increasing costs for customers remaining on the utility’s system, he said.

Dalesio writes that NC WARN’s three-year agreement called for the group to install a rooftop solar array, which NC WARN and not the cgurch would own, and the church would pay about half the retail rate for the resulting electricity. Under those conditions, the payback to the advocacy group would take 60 years. Attorneys supporting the commission’s ruling said that arrangement clearly showed that NC WARN was not producing electricity “for the public” and was intruding on Duke’s protected monopoly status.

Rev. Nelson Johnson, pastor of the Faith Community Church in Greensboro, said NC WARN sought to reduce “the effects of Duke Energy’s monopoly control that has such negative impacts on power bills, clean air and water, and climate change.”





DOE will ‘expedite’ decision on FirstEnergy’s bid for emergency support, Perry tells lawmakers. In various public comments in recent days, Energy Secretary Rick Perry appears to offer somewhat mixed signals as to the Trump administration’s receptiveness to a request from FirstEnergy for an emergency order under the Federal Power Act propping up the utility’s economically struggling power plants.

At a recent Bloomberg forum, Perry was quoted saying that issuing an emergency order under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act “may not” provide the best means of helping FirstEnergy.

But in an appearance on Capitol Hill last week, Perry appeared to have bought into the utility’s argument that power plants closing because they are no longer economic represents a real threat.

“When we look at national security in particular, if you’re in New York City and Wall Street were to lose power, I think anyone would say that puts our national security in jeopardy,” Perry said, promising that “expedition is of importance” in terms of a response to FirstEnergy.

Utility Dive’s Gavin Bade reports that, when a House lawmaker demanded that Perry “use whatever legal power you have” to support economically struggling generators, Perry replied that is “exactly what has to happen.”

The American Petroleum Institute weighed in last week, arguing that granting FirstEnergy’s request “would be at odds with your stated goals of energy dominance, economic growth, and improving America’s infrastructure.”

“The natural gas industry and the shale revolution are poster children for ‘letting the markets work,’ API said in a filing made public Friday, which cited the U.S. shale gas revolution as “a prime example of competition at work . . . This would not have been possible without the competition that was enabled by regulators having the courage to ‘’et the market work.’”

The American Spectator, a conservative publication, criticized Perry for his anti-market statements. “I don’t think we want a free market in electricity. Do we want a free market for the military? No!” the publication quoted him as saying at the Bloomberg forum.

“Of course, the current energy market is hardly a perfect free market. Overly burdensome energy regulations and subsidies to both green energy and fossil fuels distort the playing field. But the solution to that is to clear the board of the other subsidies, not add new ones. Perry should focus on creating a free energy market, not attempting to make the market less free than it already is,” the American Spectator asserted.

Crain’s Cleveland Business editorialized against the remedy FirstEnergy is seeking, but argued the company deserves a prompt response either way so it can plan its business accordingly. “The government’s interest should be in helping to provide a long-term solution to the problems facing FirstEnergy Solutions and other coal and nuclear producers while protecting the security of the electrical grid, not in looking backward with an emergency order,” the newspaper said.

“Last week’s announced closure of FirstEnergy’s three emissions-free nuclear plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio, plus Exelon’s previous announcement to prematurely close Three Mile Island, will immediately erase the environmental benefits of more than 25 years of wind and solar development in our region,” Mike Pries, a county commissioner from Dauphin County, Pa., writes in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. Pries co-chairs the Clean Jobs for Pa. Coalition, an advocacy group dedicated to keeping Three Mile Island in operation.









Kentucky net metering bill dies as session ends. A highly controversial utility-backed bill in Kentucky that solar advocates had fought hard against died a quiet death over the weekend as the state’s legislative session came to an end, Morgan Watkins reports in the Louisville Courier Journal. The measure (HB 227) had undergone numerous permutations as lawmakers sought to find common ground, but the legislation ultimately failed to win support,

“We are very pleased with the outcome, but at the same time, we want to raise the issue of the tremendous lobbying expense incurred over two sessions now, to move legislation which only serves to protect the monopoly interests of the utilities,” said Lane Boldman, Kentucky Conservation Committee director. “It is a waste of time and money at ratepayer expense,” Boldman said, encouraging lawmakers to “begin an actual dialogue with solar installers and utilities on real solutions that benefit the customer.”


S.C. columnist, citing utility political clout, says state should reconsider Santee Cooper sale. South Carolina state officials should reconsider efforts to sell the state-owned Santee Cooper utility given the display of raw political clout shown by the failure of House legislation to lift the state’s 2 percent capacity cap on net metering, Brian Hicks writes in the Post and Courier.

“You’d think SCANA wouldn’t have enough power in South Carolina these days to charge your cellphone. But they showed us,” Hicks writes in a column critical of SCANA, the parent of South Carolina Electric & Gas, and Duke, which has proposed to purchase SCANA. Together the two utilities helped kill “legislation that would have allowed residents to defray more of their power costs by using solar energy.”

Given the display of utility political clout, Hicks questions the wisdom of selling Santee Cooper to a private utility company. “Do we really want to sic another of these soulless Wall Street dividend factories on South Carolina residents?”

See also:

Editorial: No excuse for solar bill failure

South Carolina’s electric utilities won a legislative victory at the expense of millions of customers on Wednesday.


Building lawsuits instead of power plants: Where South Carolina’s nuclear fiasco stands now


Utility’s bid for PSC approval of $1 billion power plant gets pushback in Michigan. Michigan regulators are being urged to reject a utility’s proposal to have its captive ratepayers finance a $1 billion proposed natural gas-fired power plant in the state. DTE Electric has a pending request before the Public Service Commission for a certificate of necessity to build the 1,100-megawatt power plant at the expense of consumers.

“[A] large number of interested parties — including state and national experts in energy, environmental law and public health — have intervened in the case, providing testimony that showed that DTE’s analysis was grossly deficient and incorrect. Witnesses repeatedly demonstrated how the company failed to accurately analyze the full potential for energy efficiency, demand response and renewable energy to displace the need for the proposed power plant – and do so at less cost,” Robert Nelson, a former PSC commissioner, writes in the Detroit Free Press.

“As we near the date for the commission’s decision on DTE’s $1 billion gas plant, it’s important to remember that not too long ago the state faced a similar proposed gas build from Consumers Energy. That plant was never built thanks to the utility—and yet still—the lights stayed on. DTE should take a page from the Consumers Energy playbook and adapt to what’s in the best interest of Michigan families,” the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Ariana Gonzalez writes in a blog post.

Nelson, the former regulator, notes that even the PSC’s advisory staff has weighed in against approving the plant.



Dark horse opponent tars influential Ohio state lawmaker with ‘Big Money’ label. The Cincinnati Inquirer has published an op-ed by a candidate hoping to unseat Ohio State Rep. Bill Seitz, a Republican wielding huge clout on energy issues in the state. Clayton Adams, a special education teacher at Aiken High School who hopes to unseat Seitz, accused his opponent of being in the pocket of “big money” energy company campaign contributors.

“He’s received massive donations from corporations such as Duke Energy, First Energy Corporation, NextEra Energy, NiSource Energy, the Ohio Coal Association, Dayton Power and Light, Direct Energy, and more,” Adams writes, specifically citing Seitz’s role in 2014 legislation that wind advocates complain gutted mandates for renewable energy in Ohio.

“It’s time to elect someone who will put West Siders first instead of corporations. I pledge to work to roll back cumbersome regulations that surround green energy in our state. You would think a Republican like Seitz would be a champion of deregulation, but money makes us do the darndest things,” writes Adams, who admits to being younger in age than Seitz’s tenure as a state lawmaker. “Regardless of political party, we are all tired of politicians who are bought and paid for by corporations and millionaires.”


Other news items of note:

State unable to predict cost of Nevada ballot question raising renewable standards

DOE’s Perry promises to not sell off BPA assets without Congressional approval

The idea to privatize BPA, which provides wholesale power to electric utilities across the Pacific Northwest, has received strong pushback.


The Trump administration has officially clipped the wings of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Opinion: Who Will Spur the Next Energy Revolution? Not Private Industry

Some say the government can no longer afford to invest in energy research, but we say it can’t afford not to

Activists maintain opposition against proposed N.M. nuclear waste facility

Ameren’s $133 million tax windfall should go to consumers

Lower taxes means Black Hills owes Colo. ratepayers $45 million

Eversource agreement with chocolate manufacturer could serve as energy saving template for N.H.

The partnership uses a combination of investment by the companies and rebates from Eversource to pay for equipment upgrades and improvements that make mechanical systems more efficient in their energy use.

N.H. Electric Cooperative offers cheaper charging for electric vehicles as long as they avoid peak hours


N.H. consumer advocate: Decoupling: Not just for unhappy spouses, but utilities, too

Letter: A better path to energy security in N.H.

New York provides $15 million for grid resiliency

The move aims to support the city’s energy storage and renewable power goals

New Jersey passes bills for nuke subsidies, 50% RPS, 2 GW storage target

Solar power’s new look: more landscape-friendly siting

Will Annapolis, Md., landfill’s panels light the way to alternatives for rural farmland sites?

PSC to hold second hearing on solar farm proposed in Massey, Md.

Press release: Michigan PSC opens docket for Consumers, DTE, I&M to file electric distribution plans for public review

MPSC opens docket for Consumers, DTE, I&M to file electric distribution plans for public review

“The Commission’s focus on long-range and transparent planning for our electric distribution systems benefit customers in two ways,” said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC. “Replacing aging infrastructure will improve safety and reliability. It will also help in integrating new technologies such as demand response, distributed generation, and increased use of electric vehicles.”

The plans, which look ahead to 2022 and beyond, will be a crucial piece in being able to thoroughly evaluate investments in aging electrical distribution systems to ensure they are safe, reliable, and resilient. A long-term outlook allows for greater analysis of spending plans, as well as provides the information needed to make informed decisions in future rate cases.

Electric reliability is a priority of Gov. Rick Snyder, who set targets for Michigan being in the top quartile for the number of outages as measured by the system average interruption frequency index (SAIFI), and the top half for how long power is out, as measured by the system average interruption duration index (SAIDI).

See also:

DTE wind contract can go forward: DTE Electric will be allowed to enter a contract with Polaris Wind Energy LLC to build the Polaris Wind Park in Gratiot County (Case No. U-18111). Under the contract, Polaris will design, engineer, build, install, start-up, and test the Polaris Wind Park and then DTE will buy the facility, which is expected to produce 168 megawatts of power. It’s expected to be operational before March 1, 2020. DTE estimates the cost from the wind park will be $1,577 per kilowatt hour.,4639,7-159-16400_17280-466249–,00.html

See also:

Indiana Michigan Power’s $49 million electric rate increase approved,4639,7-159-16400_17280-466248–,00.html

Being choosy about your energy provider could impact your rates in Ohio (sponsored content)

Wyoming agrees to Rocky Mountain Power’s plans for 3 new wind farms — but Utah officials must OK it, too


Press release: Idaho PUC accepts Rocky Mountain Power long-range planning document

BOISE (April 12, 2018) – Regulators have accepted a long-range planning document outlining how Rocky Mountain Power intends to meet the demand for electricity among its customers over the next 20 years.

Rocky Mountain Power’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) represents a “cost-conscious plan to transition to a cleaner energy future,” according to the company, which serves approximately 75,000 customers in eastern Idaho.

Oregon’s top utility regulator resigns early

Though it has happened before, having only two members can be problematic, as it can result in split decisions on important rate cases and policy decisions.

PacifiCorp, for instance, is currently looking for the commission’s approval to undertake a massive investment in new wind farms and a transmission line. Decker has already signaled support for the plan, while the commission’s lone Republican member, Stephen Bloom, has reservations.

Tie votes go to the utilities, which don’t necessarily result in the best policy outcomes, said Bob Jenks, executive director of the ratepayer advocacy group, Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board.



Panda Power emerges from bankruptcy

Feds want more financial information in Vermont Yankee deal


Minnesota regulators approve Xcel electric car pilot program

Information on Marin (Calif.) Clean Energy program

Agenda for April 17 meeting of East Peoria, Il., city council

Item No. 2 – Adoption of Resolution No. 1718-132 on its Second Reading – Resolution approving Electricity High-Demand Response Program Agreement with Voltus Inc.

Blockchain Platform Hopes To Stop Electricity Bills Surging Through Energy Marketplace

A new Blockchain platform is aiming to stamp out energy waste and misuse by designing a ‘simple, sustainable and scalable system’ which eliminates imbalances between supply and demand.

EnBW, Bosch start up storage battery at German coal-fired power plant

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German automotive supplier Bosch [ROBG.UL] and utility EnBW on Friday started a storage battery at EnBW’s coal-fired Heilbronn plant that will supply the balancing power market at times when demand outstrips supply.

EVs appeal to Italy’s sense of fashion, energy firm says

Posted on

Electric Industry News, April 13, 2018

Today’s lede: Group outlines $12 million in television ad buy to fight Nevada ballot initiative. An NV Energy-backed group opposed to the pending Nevada ballot initiative that would open the state’s electricity market to competition plans to spend $12 million on television advertising to persuade Nevadans to vote “no,” Riley Snyder reports in the Nevada Independent, calling the advertising budget for a statewide ballot initiative “unprecedented.”

Coalition to Defeat Question 3 campaign manager Peter Koltak says the group has reserved a statewide cable and broadcasting advertising buy of more than $12 million between September and election day in November, calling it an “initial marker” for the campaign. The group plans additional significant advertising buys — including digital — in the future, Snyder reports.

“We’re fully committed here to making sure people are fully educated about risks and costs of deregulating the energy market,” Koltak told Snyder.

It remains to be seen if the Energy Choice Initiative group advocating for passage of the ballot proposal, largely funded by the Las Vegas Sands and data center firm Switch, will utilize their deep pockets to match the advertising blitz planned by opponents. Snyder previously reported that the opposition group had a $30 million war chest to combat the ballot question.

Snyder quoted a statement from Yes on 3 spokesman Bradley Mayer calling the planned advertising buy “a lot of ratepayer money.”

Mayer’s email to Snyder also asserts that the opposition is “misleading the public and trying to convince the 73% of Nevadans who already voted for energy choice that they shouldn’t have the right to simply choose their energy provider to lower power bills, promote renewable energy and create jobs is expensive.”

Voters overwhelmingly approved Question 3, as the ballot initiative is called, in a November 2016 vote. To effectively change the state’s constitution and allow electricity competition, the ballot question must receive a second nod from the state’s voters in the November’s election.


N.J. legislative package with nuclear subsidies awaits governor’s signature. As expected, New Jersey lawmakers yesterday approved a legislative package including a measure to provide $300 million annually in consumer subsidies for nuclear plants in the state. It is expected to get Gov. Phill Murphy’s signature, given that it is paired with provisions requiring renewables, energy efficiency and offshore wind.

The New York Times trumpeted New Jersey’s “big step toward renewable energy,” while giving a parenthetical nod to the nuclear subsidies. “The bills, which require power companies in New Jersey to generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and subsidize existing nuclear power plants, mark one of the biggest new policy steps that any state has taken toward cutting greenhouse gases since President Trump was elected,” the Times’ Nick Corasaniti and Brad Plumer gush.

They quote Murphy as calling nuclear “the biggest bridge we have to our clean energy future.” Murphy also welcomed the “thousands of jobs” supported by the state’s nuclear power plants, operated by Public Service Enterprise Group and Exelon.

The Times noted the Natural Resources Defense Council’s support for the legislative package, but ignored the concerns of state-based environmental groups. Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club derided the legislation as providing “green cover” for nuclear subsidies.

“The whole bill is just an excuse to subsidize the nuclear power plants,” Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said in a statement reported by Michael Sol Warren of NJ Advance Media. “PSEG are getting $300 million a year whether they need it or not.” The report also quoted N.J. Rate Counsel Stephanie Brand: “There has been no demonstration that PSEG’s nuclear plants are in financial difficulty other than bald assertions and ultimatums issued by the company.”

The Electric Power Supply Association, a national group representing competitive merchant power providers, called the legislation “deeply flawed” and urged Murphy to veto it.

“Should it become law, a bailout of New Jersey’s profitable nuclear power plants would undermine competition in the broader PJM markets and thus unfairly harm competitors who depend on those markets. A New Jersey nuclear bailout makes it more urgent than ever for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to swiftly implement effective countermeasures to protect the integrity of PJM’s energy and capacity markets,” EPSA president and CEO John Shelk said in a statement.

The legislative package passed easily with “virtually no debate,” Tom Johnson reports in The action puts Gov. Murphy “in the position of signing into law measures that consumer advocates and some lobbyists predict will dramatically increase energy costs for consumers and businesses in a state already among the most expensive in the nation for those expenditures.”

“This is a good day for New Jersey and for those who care about the state’s air quality and economy,” Johnson quoted PSEG spokesman Michael Jennings.

Axios cited a note from ClearView Energy Partners calling a federal court challenge “highly likely” should Murphy sign the consumer subsidies for nuclear into law. It noted legal challenges pending against zero-emissions certificates to support nuclear generation in Illinois and New York, adding, “We think New Jersey lawmakers structured its nuclear subsidy with the ZEC lawsuits in mind.”

A previous New Jersey law requiring consumers to subsidize for a billion-dollar natural gas-fired generating plant was overturned by the courts. That plant was built anyway, without the subsidies, earning a return on investment from PJM’s competitive wholesale power market.



Sunrun white paper urges regulatory reforms to promote clean energy. Residential solar, storage and energy services company Sunrun has developed a white paper urging consumer-centric regulatory reform to better enable clean energy development, Andy Probert writes in Greener Ideal.

The white paper, Affordable, Clean Reliable Energy: A Better System Created by the People, For the People, “includes a raft of recommendations, such as incentivizing home batteries, supporting low-income access programs, maintaining simple and stable rates, and letting the competitive free market work to deliver innovation and affordability,” Probert reports.



Conservative think tank pans renewables ballot measure in Michigan. A proposed ballot initiative in Michigan that, if approved by voters, would require the state to obtain 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, should be rejected in favor of market-based solutions, Kenneth Artz reports for the conservative Heartland Institute.

Noting concerns that renewables are less reliable and economical than more traditional electricity sources and Michigan’s limited ability to develop wind and solar, Artz quoted extensively Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who advocated for a market-based approach to renewables development.

“If we push Michigan to produce 30 percent of its electricity with less reliable, more expensive electricity sources, every Michigan resident’s pocketbook will suffer,” Hayes said, predicting reliability and affordability repercussions.

“Markets should make these decisions, not state legislators,” said Hayes. “The state legislature’s job should be to say, ‘We need this much electricity, and we need this level of clean air and clean water.’ How to get there should be left up to markets.”

Hayes also saw renewables as benefiting from the Mackinac Center’s long-time objective of ending Michigan’s 10 percent capacity limit for customers served by competitive suppliers other than the incumbent utility.

“We should start by removing the cap on our choice program and allow energy producers to compete in an open market,” said Hayes. “This is the best way to ensure the people of Michigan are getting clean, reliable, affordable electricity at the best prices.”

The renewables measure, which still must obtain the requisite number of voter signatures before it can appear on the ballot, is being funded by billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer.

See also Heartland’s Sterling Burnett in the Detroit News:

Tax reform delivers cheaper electricity


Water spills to help migrating fish seen increasing electricity costs. A federal judge’s order directing that water be “spilled” at hydroelectric dams in the Columbia River system to help migrating salmon and trout, rather than be used to generate electricity, is sparking concerns about consumers costs in the region.

The National Wildlife Federation won the judge’s order earlier this month over the objections of federal agencies in charge of the dams, arguing that the spills would cost the Bonneville Power Administration $40 million, Arla Shephard Bull reports in the Kitsap Sun.

“Public power customers are once again being asked to pick up the bill for more tinkering with the management of the river system,” said PUD No. 3 manager Annette Creekpaum. “This experiment will cost local electricity customers (in Washington state’s Mason County) about $500,000.”


“We have no way of knowing if this experiment will be successful,” said Steven Taylor, PUD No. 1 manager. “NOAA Fisheries data suggests that spilling more water may increase dissolved gases in the river, which is actually harmful to fish.”

In Washington, D.C., a House committee advanced legislation to overturn the judge’s order requiring water to be spilled.


Critics chide failure of net metering bill in S.C. House. A measure to end South Carolina’s 2 percent capacity limit on net metering in the state was approved by a majority of state House lawmakers twice, but failed on a technicality requiring a two-thirds majority vote. Efforts to alter the measure’s provisions to sidestep the state constitution’s super-majority mandate failed to garner a majority vote.

South Carolina Electric & Gas lobbyists “turned on the charm, and one by one they wooed back their wandering representatives,” writes Cindi Ross Scoppe, associate editor at The State. “No one should be fooled into thinking that SCE&G is no longer one of the most powerful lobbying forces in our state.”

“It’s clear utilities will stop at nothing to continue to keep making profits. And when customers install solar panels, utilities lose revenue” John Tynan, executive director of the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, writes separately in The State. “That’s right. This is about competition and the market at work. All of us are subject to these realities. But it seems the utilities and their supporters in the House believe utilities should be exempt from this basic tenet of economics.”

Meanwhile, Thad Moore reports in Post and Courier that the South Carolina Energy Users Committee, a group of large consumer manufacturers, asked regulators to temporarily reduce rates for consumers while lawmakers deliberate how to respond to the state’s monumental nuclear investment failure.

“The motion parallels a bill still pending in the state Senate: It would cut electric rates by 13 percent — about $19 a month for the typical household — until utility regulators decide whether SCE&G can charge customers for its failed V.C. Summer nuclear project over the next two decades,” Moore writes.


“Shareholders have benefited disproportionately from the failed nuclear construction,” the motion filed with Public Service Commission says. “Ratepayers are entitled to protection from any further injury from SCE&G’s failures.”

Finally, Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility company, has filed with the PSC to intervene in the proceeding to review Dominion Energy’s proposed acquisition of SCANA, SCE&G’s parent company,  Sammy Fretwell reports in The State. Fretwell suggests Santee Cooper may opt to oppose the transaction, but quotes a spokesman as declining to state the utility’s views at this time.


Arkansas utilities argue for changes in net metering. In the latest front in the industry’s pushback against generous net metering programs, utilities in Arkansas are making the case against compensating net metering customers in the state at the full retail rate, Bobby Ampezzan writes Arkansas Public Media. The pushback comes as the number of net metering customers “jumped” 56 percent in 2017, from 632 to 988, a tiny fraction of the 1.4 million customers in the state, Ampezzan notes:

“For more than a year Entergy, SWEPCo and other utilities, along with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office and the full-time staff of the Public Service Commission, have argued that the current 1:1 rate structure is unfair: that is, for every kilowatt-hour supplied a kilowatt-hour is taken off customers’ bills. For one, utilities themselves don’t pay that retail rate; they pay a wholesale rate and should only be forced to ‘buy’ a wholesale rate of electricity back from a customer. For another, the electrical grid as well as administrative costs are rolled into the kilowatt-hour usage rates, and customers who generate their own power and maintain a connection to the grid aren’t paying their share of costs.”

The state’s nascent distributed energy resources industry pushed back. “The overall level of penetration, these [customers] are still very small in terms of the overall load the utility is having to manage,’ says Katie Niebaum, director of the Arkansas Alternative Energy Association. “We’re not at the tipping point that other states like California have had to manage.”


PJM informs stakeholders it will examine energy and reserve market price formation. PJM Interconnection president and CEO Andy Ott sent a letter to stakeholders informing them of the board’s decision to launch two price formation initiatives. One will look at how locational marginal pricing is formulated. The other will address how PJM procures and prices reserves.

“For many years, PJM has employed single clearing price markets to incentivize physical asset owners to act in a manner that reinforces grid reliability. Locational Marginal Pricing in the energy market and the clearing price approaches applied to the reserve markets are rooted in this fundamental principle. In order to maximize the effectiveness of the markets in achieving this objective, the actions system operators take to maintain grid reliability must be reflected as transparently as possible in these market clearing prices,” Ott says in the letter to PJM stakeholders. “While this is certainly the case the majority of the time and there is ample evidence that the PJM markets are working efficiently to reinforce grid reliability, there are also instances where operator actions are not reflected in market prices. Therefore, there is room for improvement in how these energy and reserve prices are formed.”

Ott’s letter observes that PJM’s board “is respectful of the fact that all of these issues are complex and that stakeholders are tackling many issues.”

See also;

PJM draws more investment than ERCOT, despite reserve margin differences

PJM Offers Two Proposals: A Rock and a Hard Place


Other news items of note:

Utilities, DER providers face off over market access at FERC meeting

Utilities, Grid Operators Tell FERC They Need Real-Time Data to Better Manage DERs

It’s unclear how federal regulators will tackle the problem.

Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center assesses growth in corporate renewable energy procurement

Announced Corporate Renewable Deals in the U.S. (2013-2017 — 9 GW in total)

Washington regulators require utilities to offer smart meter opt-outs

Utilities in Washington are preparing for a rollout of advanced metering infrastructure to accompany grid modernization efforts. But state regulators, in an April 10 policy statement, required power companies to allow opt-out options for customers who do not want the upgraded meter.

NRC Wants More Financial Details Before Approving Vermont Yankee Sale

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the potential buyer of the closed Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has yet to show it will have the money available to clean up the site.


Say ‘no’ to nuclear bailouts, Minnesota letter write argues

Mayor writes letter to Texas PUC to dispute planned power lines

How much are import tariffs holding solar back?

Rising interest rates also raise questions, but the solar industry is fighting back

Solar Energy Industries Association President Abigail Hopper said the tariffs would “create a crisis” for the solar industry and threaten its 260,000 American jobs. But while the tariffs are having some negative impacts, the industry and its customers now say their concerns were exaggerated.

Contenders for Ryan’s House Speaker job share energy, environment goals

“I don’t think the oil and gas industry, the solar industry or the alternative coal industry would have a problem with either one of them,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the former Energy and Commerce Committee chairman who has long been allied with the energy industry. Barton said both House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) are “very pro-American energy.”

Study Finds Rising Production Costs, Not Natural Gas, To Blame for Appalachian Coal Mine Closures

Coal Demand, Market Forces, and US Coal Mine Closures

Declining labor productivity has caused more Appalachian coal mine closures and employment losses than has low natural gas prices or electricity demand.



Posted on

Electric Industry News, April 12, 2018

Today’s lede: N.J. lawmakers to vote on controversial nuclear subsidy bill. New Jersey lawmakers are expected to approve today a controversial bill that would provide $300 million annually in consumer subsidies for nuclear power plants operated by Public Service Enterprise Group. The measure is packaged with other legislative proposals that would promote energy efficiency, renewables and offshore wind development, making the nuclear subsidies more palatable to Gov. Phil Murphy, who has made environment protection a key policy objective for his administration.

But even environmentalists are panning the legislative package, as Tom Johnson reports in Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, derided the clean-energy bills as “green cover’’ to win support for nuclear subsidies Tittel suggested are not economically justified.

“A nuclear bailout will ice out our transition to a clean-energy future,” Johnson quoted Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “It’s a bad deal for ratepayers and the environment.”

“Delivering hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars to a profitable corporation is not sensible energy policy, it is extortion,” said Lena Smith, Food & Water Watch advocate. “It is astonishing that Trenton lawmakers are even considering granting this outrageous handout.”

Leading the charge for the nuclear subsidies is Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who has a history of fostering legislation in New Jersey requiring consumers to subsidize power plant development in the state. His bid to subsidize gas-fired power plant development previously was struck down by the courts, and the billion-dollar power plant project he sought to have consumers underwrite was built anyway dependent on revenues from the PJM Interconnection competitive market and not subsidies.

Another measure in the legislative package, which would direct the Board of Public Utilities to approve a pilot offshore energy project by Fisherman’s Energy, was opposed by 11 environmental groups in a letter to the governor and key lawmakers, Johnson reports.

Tom Davis, reporting for the Patch, quoted Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo as noting the legislation will “jack up” electric bills by $55 per year, with about $40 of that added cost going to underwrite PSEG’s nuclear operations.

David also notes the opposition of Rate Counsel Stefanie A. Brand, who in a report to state lawmakers asserted, “Your job is to put them first.”

PSEG spokesman Michael Jennings has been assertively defending the nuclear subsidy bill. PSEG is “sympathetic to the cost to ratepayers, but the opposition is being disingenuous and providing a false choice,” Davis quotes Jennings. “The cost to customers will be far greater if the plants were to close, as has been demonstrated by several economic studies.”

In an apparent nod to opposition from New Jersey business and industrial consumers, Jennings added: “And that will be a greater burden on businesses and make it more difficult to achieve the clean energy future we all want.”



Meanwhile, NEI is on the offensive backing out-of-market support for nuclear. Maria Korsnick, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and CEO, is on the offensive in support of measures at both the state and federal levels to support economically struggling nuclear power plants.

In a missive delivered as part of NEI’s 2018 Financial Community Annual Briefing, the title of which specifically references Akron, where FirstEnergy (which is seeking an emergency order from the Trump administration to support its nuclear plants) is headquartered, and Trenton, where today’s vote on New Jersey nuclear subsidies will take place, Korsnick offers an impassioned argument for maintaining nuclear power as part of the nation’s generation arsenal.

“The future of nuclear energy will be shaped by the choices being made by the White House and Congress, by individual companies, by state legislatures and governors and by federal agencies. And to be clear—there are choices to be made<” Korsnick writes. “The market is forcing us to make fundamental choices. Do we want to preserve a diverse electric system? Do we want to be prepared when fossil fuel prices change again? When weather extremes create competing demands for natural gas, or freeze the coal piles? Do we want to hold on to clean air? Do we want to sustain the industrial base and talent base that is linked to our national security? We didn’t have to stress these virtues ten years ago, but in today’s market, we do.”

And that’s just the start of the six-page, 3,234-word impassioned, articulate, thoughtful and comprehensive stemwinder in support of her economically threatened industry.

“We need a healthy domestic nuclear industry, to keep the lights on, to keep air pollution in check, to keep thousands of people in good-paying, year-round jobs, to keep municipal budgets funded, to keep our expertise base that helps us with exports in a global market,” Korsnick concludes.

“And in places that have carbon emission goals, nuclear is essential to meeting them,” the letter continues. “But most of all we need to recognize what we’ve got and not let it slip away through incremental decisions, or careless decisions, that take us in directions we’ll regret later on. We need to make choices that will sustain the fleet, help us innovate, and thrive.”

Politico, meanwhile, reports that Kosnick sent a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry in support of FirstEnergy’s highly controversial bid for extraordinary relief under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act, which gives DOE authority to issue orders in emergencies to ensure the lights stay on.

“The simple fact is that nuclear energy’s many benefits are not being recognized by the markets in which they operate,” Korsnick said in the letter to Perry. “We are therefore writing to request that immediate action be taken to prevent the closure of these four nuclear power reactors.”


See also:

Nuclear Closures Undo Years’ Worth of Climate Progress

In 2015, nuclear facilities in the U.S. alone generated as much zero-carbon electricity as all the wind turbines on the planet combined.



FERC, Perry Struggle To Define And Address Grid Resiliency


Trump May Greenlight An $8 Billion Attack On Competitive Energy Markets


Taxpayers shouldn’t foot the $8 billion bill to bail out a failing energy company


Ga. PSC candidate swipes at consumer costs for nuclear investment. John Noel, Democratic candidate for District 3 of the Georgia Public Service Commission, said his campaign is intended to protect consumers from needlessly paying for Southern Co.’s $25 billion investment in the Vogtle nuclear power plant.

Consumers are paying to build a plant the state doesn’t need, Noel said, calling “a vote for the incumbent is a vote for higher rates.”

As reported by Thomas Lynn in the Valdosta Daily Times, he advocates cutting the state’s losses with the project and ending the construction of the planned new nuclear reactors. Instead, consumers would be better off with utility investment in solar and wind.

“We need to quit building dinosaur plants and be more innovative,” Noel said. “You need a Public Service Commission that’s looking after your interest and not those at the utility company.”

Noel faces two other candidates in the May 22 primary to determine who will run against incumbent Republican Chuck Eaton.

Noel accused the current five-member PSC of being bought by the power companies, Lynn reports. “There are five people sitting in fancy chairs in some room on the fourth floor of a building in Atlanta making decisions for us and we don’t have a clue who they are,” Noel said. “I want to change that.”

For 19 years Noel has owned and operated Energy & Environment, a business specializing in energy efficiency projects. “My whole life, my job has been reducing people’s energy bills,” he said. “I know a little something about energy and being efficient.”


FERC convenes two-day technical conference on distributed energy resources. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will conclude today a two-day technical conference examining the integration of distributed energy resources in the competitive wholesale power markets it oversees. The issue was one that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., exacted a promise from Commissioner Neil Chatterjee to address when Chatterjee was a Trump nominee requiring Whitehouse’s confirmation vote.

FERC describes the conference as an examination of the participation of DER aggregations in Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) and Independent System Operator (ISO) markets and to more broadly discuss the potential effects of DERs on the bulk power system. The discussions are intended to address two broad sets of issues related to DERs.

“First, the technical conference will gather additional information to help the Commission determine what action to take on the DER aggregation reforms proposed in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Electric Storage Participation in Markets Operated by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (NOPR).  In the NOPR, the Commission proposed to require each RTO/ISO to define DER aggregators as a type of market participant that can participate in the RTO/ISO markets under the participation model that best accommodates the physical and operational characteristics of its DER aggregation.

“As discussed in Order No. 841, the Commission is taking no further action in Docket No. RM16-23-000 regarding the proposed DER aggregation reforms.   Instead, the Commission will continue to explore the proposed DER aggregation reforms under Docket No. RM18-9-000. All comments previously filed in response to the NOPR in Docket No. RM16-23-000 are incorporated by reference into Docket No. RM18-9-000, and any further comments regarding the proposed DER aggregation reforms, including discussion of those reforms during this technical conference, should be filed henceforth in Docket No. RM18-9-000.   Second, the technical conference will explore issues related to the potential effects of DERs on the bulk power system and any comments related to these issues should be filed in Docket No. AD18-10-000.”

Got that? The agenda for the technical conference can be viewed here. An archived live stream of the technical conference can be viewed here. For more information about this technical conference, please contact David Kathan at (202) 502-6404,, or Louise Nutter at (202) 502-8175,



Bill advances in Congress to nullify judge’s decision regarding Snake River dams. Legislation is advancing in Congress (H.R. 3144) to effectively nullify a judge’s ruling directing federal officials to assess the benefits of breaching federal hydropower dams on the Pacific Northwest’s Snake River as a means of protecting endangered salmon runs.

The House Natural Resources Committee voted 23-17 to approve a bill barring any breaching of the dames until at least 2022, and would override the judge’s order to spill water to help fish migration, Annette Cary reports in the Tri-City Herald.

“The bill is a troubling attack on legal action,” Cary quotes Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. “If we enact the bill, it would overturn lawfully rendered court decisions simply because bill sponsors don’t like them.”

But Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., supported the legislation, arguing that the federally owned hydropower system “has been mired in third-party litigation, questionable judicial edicts and onerous federal regulation for decades.”

“Without Snake and Columbia River dams and the many benefits they provide, life in Central Washington as we know it would be unrecognizable,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., who co-sponsored the bipartisan bill authored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

“I represent communities that actually live with the consequences of forced increased spill or potentially breaching dams, whether through higher electricity rates, higher transportation costs, reduced access to irrigation water, reduced flood control and more,” Newhouse said.

See also:

McMorris Rodgers, Newhouse Bill to Protect Columbia and Snake River Dams Passes Committee


Ashley Brown weighs in on Iowa energy legislation. Ashley Brown , executive director of the Harvard Electricity Policy Group and a former Ohio utility regulator, has authored an op-ed in the Des Moines Register offering “fact vs. myth” regarding utility reform legislation pending in Iowa.

“Rather than focusing on the substance of the proposed measure, some critics of the bill have mischaracterized key elements of the bill and its effects,” Brown writes, citing his experience as a regulator and head of HEPG to argue that “recent claims against Senate File 2311 should not be taken at face value.”

Specifically, the op-ed debunks arguments that the measure will raise rates. “Regulatory pre-approval, if adopted, would have the effect of reducing utility financial risks, and thereby lowering the cost of capital for new projects, would provide significant benefits for consumers,” he writes.

The op-ed also targets arguments that the bill would negatively impact energy efficiency and renewables. “Iowa is one of the nation’s leading producers of wind energy and the bill would not change that progression,” he says. And while conceding that “the bill does propose to cap the revenues expended on utility energy efficiency programs and imposes a specific test for measuring the effectiveness of the programs that consumers pay,” he calls it “a legitimate question for debate whether those proposals have merit, but it is clear, that the fate of energy efficiency in Iowa, and the rest of the country for that matter, does not rest with the size and scale of utility efficiency programs”

Brown said continued debate over the measure “ought to stick to the merits of the issues presented rather than being swayed by speculation and conjecture, often incorrect, about the impact of what is being proposed.”


Other news items of note:

N.Y. attorney general announces $550,000 settlement with energy service company that illegally deceived consumers

  • Liberty Power Holdings, LLC falsely promised consumers lower prices, switched their energy service provider without their consent
  • AG’s ongoing investigation into ESCOs has already won back $5 million for consumers
  • AG offers tips to protect New Yorkers from unscrupulous energy service companies

“Today’s settlement returns more than half a million dollars to consumers who were deceived by Liberty, which falsely promised savings and enrolled consumers without their consent,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “My office will not tolerate exploitative businesses that prey on unsuspecting New Yorkers and their hard-earned cash.”

Idaho Power has joined the CAISO energy imbalance market



D.C. City Council bill would establish U.S.’s first independent DER authority

A new bill proposed in the District of Columbia’s city government would create an independent authority to oversee the growth of distributed resources and energy efficiency, including the power to review utility investments, Gavin Bade reports in Utility Dive. Read more:

Council opposes Pa. legislative proposal, says property taxes would skyrocket if bill passes

“Middletown Borough Council on April 3 went on record opposing legislation introduced in the state House that would prohibit the borough from using money derived from selling electricity to subsidize the general fund,” Dan Miller reports in the Press & Journal. Read more:,31753

Fate, Texas, Power Aggregation Kicks Off

Fate residents to save money on their electric bills

“The City of Fate experienced so much success with their last Fate Power Switch Program that they’ve launched another one. Last year, one in four Fate households registered and saved an average of $368 per year on their energy bills – just by accepting the winning provider’s offer,” Jessica Larson writes in Blue Ribbon News. Read more:

Colo. PUC allows Pueblo, others to join Black Hills Energy tax case

“The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will let the city of Pueblo and other interested parties take part in deciding how Black Hills Energy shares its lower federal tax bill with ratepayers,” Peter Roper reports in the Pueblo Chieftain. Read more:

NYC’s Energy Reduction Program Saves Millions

Board OKs Southern California Edison Agreement in Next Phase of Electricity Buying Plan

Tesla is the biggest short in the US stock market

Too much competition in electric cars means Tesla stock will drop to $84 by end of 2019: analyst

  • Too much competition in the electric car industry will send Tesla stock down to $84 by the end of 2019, says analyst Gordon Johnson. It’s currently priced at more than $300.
  • “The real issue we have with Tesla is competition,” Johnson says.
  • He says by 2022 there will be more than 100 electric cars on the market.

Energy storage charges forward

U.S. large-scale batteries lead global energy storage deployment

An inaugural global energy storage report by GTM Research finds that while the United States remains the world’s leading market with newly installed capacity of 431 MWh, China is poised to rise to second place globally in 2019.


Posted on

Electric Industry News, April 11, 2018

Today’s lede: ‘People are going to die in the dark,’ coal magnate Murray declares. Robert Murray, CEO of coal producer Murray Energy, said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “did not do its job” when it rejected a proposed rule forwarded by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to provide consumers subsidies for economically struggling coal-fired power plants in the competitive wholesale power markets, Josh Siegel writes in the Washington Examiner.

Murray called the subsequent request from FirstEnergy that the Department of Energy exercise its emergency authority under the Federal Power Act to prop up the utility’s ailing coal-fired power plants “probably the only option right now” to ward off what he said was an impending “disaster” from the decline in coal-fired generation in the marketplace.

“Something has to be done here,” Sigel quoted Murray, who said that coal-fueled generation must make up 20 percent of generation in order for the grid to remain stable. “If it goes any lower, people are going to die in the dark,” Murray declared.

Meanwhile, Rob Powelson, a Trump appointee to FERC, apparently got riled up seeing Murray’s comment asserting the commission failed to do its job by rejecting consumer subsidies for coal generation. Politico reports that he fired off a tweet that said,“I challenge Bob Murray to a debate on CNBC or Fox News.” He subsequently deleted the tweet, and his office declined to comment to Politico.

Powelson, a staunch advocate of markets, was seen as a pivotal opponent of the consumer subsidy scheme advanced by the Trump administration. Insiders suggested his willingness to vote with FERC’s two Democrats against the proposed rule required FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre and fellow Republican Neil Chatterjee to capitulate and join in a unanimous vote against the measure.


Granting FirstEnergy request ‘would be a clear abuse of statutory authority.’ The Trump administration should deny FirstEnergy’s request for an emergency order under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act and instead let the markets work to the benefit of consumers, according to an op-ed placed in the Washington Examiner by a trio of authors with a libertarian think tank and two groups representing large electricity consumers.

No emergency exists to justify the Department of Energy exercising its emergency authority to ensure grid reliability, and to do so “would cost consumers billions and destroy market competition,” write Devin Hartman of the R Street Institute, John Hughes of the Electricity Consumers Resource Council, and Owen Kean of the Advanced Energy Buyers Group.

Granting FirstEnergy’s request when the evidence shows no grid reliability threat exists “would be a clear abuse of statutory authority,” they argue. Rather, serving the public interest “actually means letting markets run their course.”

See also:

Perry says he may not declare an electric grid emergency


S.C. bill to lift cap on solar net metering dies despite majority support. A bill in the South Carolina House to lift the state’s 2 percent cap on solar net metering failed to advance, despite having the support of a majority of lawmakers, because it failed to garner a two-thirds majority, Sammy Fretwell reports in The State. The measure received 61 yeas and 44 nays.

The bill had passed the House last week in a 64-33 vote, but a point of order was raised regarding the need for a two-thirds majority vote. Advocates blamed the state’s utilities and Gov. Henry McMaster for bringing political pressure to bear against the measure.

The utilities “are showing the people of South Carolina they run this state,” Fretwell quoted Rep. Peter McCoy (R). “I’m embarrassed,” said Rep. Katie Arrington (R). “This is not what we are supposed to be.”

But Rep. Bill Sandifer (R), who had led efforts to defeat the measure, lauded the outcome. “It was a good vote,’” he said. “It is better for the state.”

Fretwell described Sandifer as a long-time ally of the state’s utilities who has received $69,000 in utility campaign contributions since 2005.

See also:

S.C. power companies holding tax savings that could reduce rates until regulators weigh in


City official pans Michigan lawmaker’s effort to expand electricity competition. A controversial 2016 Michigan state law that kept limits on electricity competition at 10 percent of each utility’s load and established mandates for capacity obligations that could limit reliance on resources outside the state is threatened by a state Rep. Gary Glenn’s efforts to pass legislation expanding competition, Lapeer city commissioner Catherine Bostick-Tullius writes in a Detroit News op-ed.

That 2016 legislative compromise set the state “on a new course, one that keeps our energy Michigan-made, reliable, affordable and cleaner. We keep our energy jobs in Michigan, too.” Bostick-Tullius writes. “But unfortunately some are seeking to deregulate Michigan’s energy market, a goal that would undermine and even roll back this new plan for our energy future.”

The op-ed cited the experience in other states that opened their electricity markets to competition. In Illinois, she noted, the attorney general “filed a federal complaint to put a stop to collusion and price gouging.” In California, the adoption of a competitive electricity market “led to rolling blackouts, market manipulation and price gouging,” she said, calling Michigan’s experience with electricity competition a failure.

She called it “upsetting” to see lawmakers like Glenn “trying to chip away at the protections already in place to make sure we have access to Michigan-made electricity that’s reliable and affordable.”


Finalists chosen to compete for $20 million carbon dioxide competition prize. The XPRIZE Foundation announced the ten finalists in an international contest for solutions to carbon dioxide emissions, sponsored by NRG Energy and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. Each finalist will receive $500,000 as they jockey to win the $20 million grand prize.


Other news items of note:

U.S. FERC says PSEG unit violated power market rules

Federal Power Rules Threaten New England Renewable Energy

How location-based prices and utility rewards could help California’s electric grid

Illinois blazes new trail in anticipation of private microgrids using utility wires

Advocates want We Energies customers to get savings from closing coal-fired power plant in Wisconsin

Results of third-party audit of Central Maine Power bills may not come until end of year

The state’s request for proposals lays out a lengthy timeline that could further erode public confidence in a utility already taking heat over unusually high charges.

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to hold hearings on UGI Electric rate increase request

Let PG&E ‘off the hook’ for Calif. wildfire costs? If not, your utility bills could rise

Viewpoint: Colorado PUC needs to boost energy efficiency goals

Another push to get more clean cars on New Jersey’s roads

Proposal would deliver rebates of $100M annually over three years to drivers who switch to plug-in vehicles

U.S. Sen. Whitehouse preps bill directing study, pilot program for natural gas demand response

In the electric sector, demand response programs help reduce peak load and prices. New legislation would direct federal regulators to study its potential for gas markets.

A pessimistic Tesla forecast

World’s First Micro Energy Hedging Platform To Benefit Texas Businesses

Direct Energy Business and LO3 Energy launch Texas micropower by leveraging Exergy™ platform and creating cost-effective power procurement platform

Exergy – Blockchain-Based World’s First Micro Energy Hedging Platform

Oracle Utilities realizes $2 billion in energy efficiency savings for consumers

Zenergy Brands Closes Acquisition of Retail Electric Provider, Enertrade Electric

New Behavioral Demand Response Service Drives Consumer Engagements For Retail Energy Providers

How millions of electric cars could power your home

Three things consumers want from electricity providers

Utilities are working to improve the customer experience, but what do consumers really want? Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative’s Patty Durand explores.

An optimistic Jigar Shah talks tariffs, taxes and state leaders in clean energy

Competition open for second and third rounds of Alberta Renewable Electricity Program

Power generation a matter for the free market, Australia’s energy minister argues


Posted on

Electric Industry News, April 10, 2018

Illinois AG acts against a retail supplier, but indicts the competitive supply industry. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced an enforcement lawsuit against a New York-based competitive retail electricity supplier while painting the entire competitive supply industry with a broad brush as one that is “rife with fraud.”

Madigan’s lawsuit charged Major Energy Electric Services with engaging in deceptive marketing practices (both door-to-door and telemarketing) that led consumers to believe they were speaking with someone from their incumbent utility company, Commonwealth Edison. Customers were convinced to switch with false promises of economic savings, the lawsuit alleges. Some customers were switched without their consent after offering up their ComEd customer identification number, the lawsuit charged.

“Major Energy’s business model is nothing more than outright fraud, and unfortunately, Major Energy is not the only company engaged in this fraud,” Madigan said in a news release. “But through my lawsuit today, we can put this bad company out of business for good in Illinois.”

There are nearly 100 competitive suppliers operating in the Illinois competitive retail power market, Madigan noted, citing Illinois Commerce Commission statistics suggesting that customers of competitive suppliers paid $400 million more for electricity over the past three years than if they’d taken default service from their incumbent utility company.

“There are a wealth of bad companies,” Madigan said, as quoted by Mark Brown in the Chicago Sun-Times. “What we know is that it is very difficult to make money by speculating on energy prices and passing on those savings to residential customers,” she said. “You are almost never going to save money by switching.”

The lawsuit filed against against Major Energy is Madigan’s fourth enforcement action against a competitive supplier operating in Illinois. She has entered into settlement agreements with Ethical Electric and PALMCo Power, while a lawsuit against Sperian Energy remains pending.

Madigan is advocating legislative measures to address the marketing practices of competitive energy retailers. The Citizens Utility Board and AARP advocated their own set of measures recently. The Illinois Commerce Commission took steps last year to address concerns about marketing practices, and recently convened a “policy session” on the topic featuring industry representatives and consumer interests..

Retail electricity competition initially took off with a bang in Illinois as utility default rates were at a premium compared with power available in the competitive market. Many municipalities across the state took advantage of the market conditions with customer aggregation programs, many of which solicited renewable energy resources often at a savings compared to utility supply. But after a year or two supplies procured on behalf of the utilities come into line with low wholesale energy prices in the market, and many municipalities switched their customers back to utility default service.

Retail suppliers argue that utilities in customer choice states should not be engaged in procuring electricity supply on behalf of customers. The utilities simply pass through the wholesale costs of the energy to customers and garner profits for their investors through distribution rates, which they complain are used to mask or subsidize the costs of supplying energy. Competitive suppliers also complain that they, unlike utilities, cannot go before state regulators and be made whole if they make a bad decision in the marketplace. They point to Texas, which has isolated distribution utilities from the energy supply market, as the model other competitive states should embrace.




DOE’s Perry hints that FirstEnergy’s Sec. 202(c) request may not fly. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, speak at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit in New York, suggested that the Trump administration is looking at a different solution for financially ailing FirstEnergy than granting the utility’s request for support under DOE’s Federal Power Act emergency authority, Bloomberg reports.

Axios noted that DOE last year denied a similar appeal for an emergency order from Murray Energy, a top coal supplier to FirstEnergy.

While acknowledging that his department has under review FirstEnergy’s request for extraordinary action under FPA Section 202(c), Perry said  that it “may not be the way that we decide is the most appropriate, the most efficient way to address this,” emphasizing that “It’s not the only way.”

A FirstEnergy spokesman said the utility is “open to all potential policy solutions that would enable our plants to continue to play their critical role in the security and resilience of the electrical grid.” Nora Brownell, who advanced competition policies as a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, called FirstEnergy’s request for out-of-market support a “real tragedy” for a capitalist society, Bloomberg reported.

See also:

Ohio Power Company Has Few Allies in Bailout Bid

FirstEnergy’s request would cripple America’s biggest electricity market, critics say


To Keep Benefits of Competition, Do Not Intervene in Electricity Markets


PJM looks to reconfigure capacity market to address state subsidies for generators. PJM Interconnection has filed proposed tariff changes with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to alter its capacity market to assure competitive generators aren’t economically harmed by other generators receiving state-mandated subsidies. Exelon was successful in obtaining state-mandated support for its nuclear plants in Illinois, while legislation to provide subsidies for nuclear plants is advancing in New Jersey. FirstEnergy has aggressively sought legislation in Pennsylvania and Ohio to provide consumer subsidies for its struggling power plant fleet..

“Left unaddressed the subsidies will crowd out efficient, competitive resources and shift to consumers the investment and operational risks of generation,” PJM’s Andy Ott said in a press release. “We seek the appropriate balance that respects state policy while avoiding policy impacts of a state’s subsidies on the market as a whole and on other states.”

In the more than 600-page filing, PJM asks FERC to authorize it to adopt a Capacity Repricing proposal, which would create a two-stage capacity auction process to accommodate state subsidies without distorting market prices. Alternative, PJM asked for changes to its existing Minimum Offer Price Rule to reflect the actual costs of generation without subsidies.

Competitive merchant power producers welcomed the PJM filing. “As events unfolding in New Jersey and other PJM states such as Illinois clearly show, the integrity of wholesale power markets is under serious attack by those seeking unjustified state subsidies for their nuclear and coal plants,” the Electric Power Supply Association’s John Shelk told Natural Gas Intelligence’s Jamison Cocklin. Shelk called for FERC to implement countermeasures to ensure consumers continue to be served by “beneficial competition.”




Nevada co-op counters newspaper column advocating customer choice ballot passage. “It is pretty clear the price rural Nevadans will pay for electric service under Energy Choice will not be less than the current rates they pay for service. Which, by the way, are already less than the rates paid in states with Energy Choice, including Texas which is touted as the poster child for Energy Choice success,” a top rural electric cooperative official writes in the Elko Daily Free Press.

David Luttrell, Lincoln County Power District 1 general manager, president of the Nevada Rural Electric Association and a member of the Governor’s Committee on Energy Choice, was responding to a coilumn by Thomas Mitchell, in which he supported the state’s pending ballot initiative to allow customer choice in electricity, asking “Why shouldn’t residential customers be able to shop for cheaper power?


Other news of note:

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says PSEG subsidiary made false statements over 9-year period

Federal agency contends alleged violations occurred when company was bidding into power auction to set prices consumers pay for electricity

Apple now runs on 100% green energy, and here’s how it got there

The most important thing about the company’s big renewable push might be that it’s bringing everyone–from suppliers to local utilities–along for the ride.

Apple claims milestone: 100% green power

The state of global power: Proposed new capacity and power sector decarbonization

A summary for policymakers

What’s next for South Carolina’s embattled utilities?

A failed investment in nuclear puts the futures of SCE&G and Santee Cooper in danger

S.C. power companies holding tax savings that could reduce rates until regulators weigh in

With massive expansion under way, Virginia becoming a leader in solar energy field


Why Dallas solar capacity pales compared with Austin, San Antonio

Despite its sunny climate, Dallas finished 44th in per capita solar capacity on a list of 68 large U.S. cities. Even famously rainy Seattle and frequently frozen Buffalo did better than Dallas.


Legislation put forth to hold Maine utility shareholders responsible for investigation costs

Committee still considering changes to utilities’ audit costs

The bill, LD 1729, an Act to Require Audits of an Investor-Owned Transmission and Distribution Utility’s Metering and Billing Systems, was amended to give the PUC some leeway in asking utilities to pay for audits if the audits show imprudent conduct led to problems. Currently if that is found, the PUC cannot shift the costs from ratepayers to shareholders. The PUC can disallow certain costs, however.

Our electric grid needs more power

Power struggle: Iowa muni campaign heats up ahead of public vote

In a northeastern Iowa community, voters will weigh in on whether to replace its investor-owned electric company with a municipal utility.

Amending Grafton Energy Choice: A Public Discussion

The electricity plan for Grafton may change. Find out about it and have your say at this meeting.

GRAFTON, Mass.—Town officials are holding an important meeting and public discussion to talk about amending the Grafton Energy Choice aggregation plan at the Board of Selectmen meeting on April 17 at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Center.

Pa. legislation would put a charge into electric vehicles

FirstEnergy’s Ohio Utilities Launch Energy Audit Program to Help Customers Save

AKRON, Ohio, April 9, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Customers of FirstEnergy’s (NYSE: FE) Ohio utilities – The Illuminating Company, Ohio Edison and Toledo Edison – can now save up to $250 toward the cost of a professional energy audit valued at $350.  The Residential Comprehensive Audit Program is designed to help customers make energy-saving improvements and reduce their electricity costs.

FirstEnergy Utilities Urge Customers to ‘Hang Up, Don’t Pay Up’ When Suspected Scammers Call

Norwich, Vt., will evaluate new solar array

Nuclear regulators to license two new reactors at FPL’s Turkey Point facility

However, there is a significant chance the new units will not be constructed due to the billion-dollar price tag to construct a new reactor and competition from cheap gas. FPL officials say they will wait until the Plant Vogtle project in Georgia is complete to make a final decision.

New Behavioral Demand Response Service Drives Consumer Engagements For Retail Energy Providers

Internet solutions company People Power has announced a new block of energy-focused microservices designed to help consumers to save money on electricity through more efficient use of electricity. The new services are bundled into People Power’s new Behavioral Demand Response 2.0 product.

Steps to success for utilities moving into community solar projects

“NextEra Energy Inc., Duke Energy Corp., and Dominion Energy Inc.’s utilities are among a number of companies in the sector contemplating significant solar investments in the near-term. Other companies, including Xcel Energy Inc. and Alliant Energy Corp., are undertaking large wind projects in the near-term, but are considering ramping up solar investments in the coming years,” according to the March 28 S&P Global Market Intelligence report summary, “With eye toward growth, utilities plot ambitious solar CapEx in coming years.”

How Blockchain Is Threatening to Kill the Traditional Utility

  • The future is selling solar power to a neighbor with a Tesla
  • Utilities see both opportunity and threat in new technology

Battery Storage Comes to the Blockchain

Storage makes NEMoGrid one of the most complete blockchain pilots to date.

Costs, not the environment, will drive switch to electric cars

China and other emerging economies are leading the west

Tesla’s giant battery system gets praised by energy market operator: ‘rapid, accurate, and valuable’

Electricity Prices Remain Low Despite Coal Decline: Here’s Why


Posted on

Electric Industry News, April 9, 2018

Mass. Lawmakers to examine competitive retail power provider practices. The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy will hold an oversight hearing in the wake of a provocative report issued by Attorney General Maura Healey that she said justified her call for the state to ban residential sales by competitive retail electricity providers.

Healey cited about 700 complaints among the half million accounts served by competitive suppliers to conclude that customers – particularly low-income consumers – were paying too much and that the residential market should be closed to them.

The state legislative oversight panel said the hearing was intended to “consider immediate protective measures and the implications of those actions,” Matt Murphy of State House News Service reports.

As of yet no date has been set for the hearing.


See also:

Report: Worcester, Springfield top Massachusetts cities for inflated ‘competitive supply’ electricity rates


Opposing sides line up for expensive battle over Nevada’s customer choice ballot initiative. It promises to become one of the most expensive – if not the most expensive – battles over a ballot initiative in Nevada history. Both sides are well financed, and gearing up for a bruising battle over the pending vote this November on a ballot initiative to alter the state’s constitution to allow Nevada electricity consumers to choose among competing electricity suppliers.

The “battle lines are drawn,” Riley Snyder reports in the Nevada Independent. Opponents have seized on the Massachusetts AG’s report (see above) to argue for a “no” vote on the ballot initiative, KTVN reports. AARP of Nevada, the Professional Firefighters of Nevada, and the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers all oppose Question 3, as the ballot initiative is called, the Patch reports.

The Energy Choice Initiative campaign funded by casinos and data center company Switch announced Friday the hiring of consulting firm Left Hook Communications, which is led by Brandon Hall, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s campaign manager in 2010, and Raghu Devaguptapu, an experienced Democratic political operative, Snyder reports in the Nevada Independent. .

Meanwhile, the union- and NV Energy-backed Coalition to Defeat Question 3 announced that AARP and the firefighters and police groups were rallying with them in opposition to the measure. “We are alarmed that Question 3 would provide fewer consumer protections and less access to affordable electricity for seniors,” AARP Nevada state director Maria Dent said in a statement. “In deregulated states, such as Massachusetts, we’ve seen seniors targeted by predatory sales practices that lure them into contracts that actually cost them hundreds of dollars more per year.”

Jon Wellinghoff, the former Nevada consumer advocate who went on to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the Obama administration, is a leading public spokesman for the Energy Choice Initiative campaign. “Competition provides the opportunity to shop around so you can look for the lowest price if you want the lowest price, other people want different kinds of services, they may want renewable energy,” Wellinghoff said.

Question 3 was approved by nearly three quarters of the votes cast in November 2016. To effectively alter the Nevada constitution and allow customer choice in electricity, the ballot measure must be approved again this fall. Nevada policy makers would have until 2023 to set up the parameters of the competitive retail power market.




Libertarian think tank says S.C. consumers should choice in electricity supply. R Street Institute, a libertarian pro-markets think tank in Washington, D.C., has distinguished itself by its increasingly high profile in advocating for customer choice in electricity. In the last year or two, R Street has posted blogs and placed op-eds in numerous newspapers supporting competition in states that have it, and advocating for adoption of competition in states that retained monopoly regulation.

Now the group has posted a blog advocating customer choice in South Carolina, a state with a roiling debate over utility regulation in the wake of a high-profile regulatory failure leaving the state’s consumers on the hook for billions in costs for an abandoned nuclear power development effort.

“South Carolinians spend more on their electric bills than people from any other state, but they shouldn’t have to,” begins the blog post by Marc Hyden, R Street’s Southeast Region Director. “Part of the reason for high costs in the Palmetto State boils down to poor public policy.”

Hyden contrasts South Carolina’s experience of rising costs under monopoly regulation with those of consumers in Illinois and Ohio, where policy makers replaced monopoly regulation with customer choice in electricity. Prior to market liberalization, the states were among those with the high costs in the region. Today they are among the lowest, he notes.

“The recent developments in Ohio, Illinois and elsewhere have clearly demonstrated that freer, competitive electric markets are simply better than the antiquated government-enforced monopolies found in places like South Carolina. As it stands, South Carolina’s energy model burdens consumers with record-high prices, rewards energy providers’ unwise business practices and inhibits more-efficient energy production. Instead of maintaining this system, South Carolinian officials should consider adopting an approach that gives consumers more choices.”


Bill lifting net metering cap advances in South Carolina. Meanwhile, it doesn’t appear that such a wholesale revision of utility regulatory policy is in the offing in South Carolina, although some lawmakers have advocated for it. For now, they appear to be content with nibbling at the edges, such as the legislation to remove a cap on net metering that passed in the House.

H4421, the Electric Consumer Bill of Rights Act, would end South Carolina’s limiting of net metering to 2 percent of aggregate peak-load capacity at each of the state’s utilities.

“This is all about making sure residents have solar as an option to lower their energy bills, and we’re pleased the House answered with a resounding yes,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, Washington, D.C.-based industry trade group, “We urge the state Senate to do what’s right for jobs and consumers, i.e. take up and pass the bill without delay. Doing so will allow South Carolina to continue its rapid solar growth, give homeowners choice, and provide affordable electricity options and jobs.”



See also:

Two South Carolina utility regulators leaving; no shortage of potential replacements


Credit ratings firm Moody’s sees upside for FirstEnergy’s competitors. As the Trump administration weighs FirstEnergy’s request for extraordinary relief under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act for the utility’s financially ailing power plants, Moody’s Investor Service has issued an analysis finding that closure of FirstEnergy’s plants should result in some economic “upside” for merchant generators who continue to operate in the competitive wholesale market.

“Its new analysis suggests that letting the FirstEnergy plants close as scheduled would raise prices for other power plants looking to bid in next month’s auction by regional grid operator PJM Interconnection, which would improve earnings. That’s good for other power plants, such as coal-powered ones, that are facing economic hurdles,” veteran energy report John Siciliano reports in the Washington Examiner.

Moody’s noted that although “federal or state subsidies could ultimately rescue these plants, repeated efforts to gain state-sponsored financial support in the past two years have failed.”

FirstEnergy formally asked the Department of Energy to exercise its emergency authority under the Federal Power Act in the run up to a recent bankruptcy filing to protect its competitive generation company from creditors. The request has engendered considerable opposition from competitive merchant power providers and environmental advocates. PJM Interconnection has said there is no immediate threat to the reliable operations of the power grid to support such a request, a point of view echoed by the Moody’s analysis.

“We do not believe that [closing the FirstEnergy power plants] will have much effect on the energy market and so far we have not seen an uptick in the forward energy market,” Moody’s said. But the impact on PJM’s capacity market would be more significant, Moody’s concluded.

At a speech in West Virginia this week, President Trump promised that his administration would “look at” the Section 202(c) request, but offered no timetable for a decision.

See also:

Moody’s: Newest San Antonio coal plant economically challenged

FirstEnergy Solutions bankruptcy could take years; consumer impact review begins

Will FirstEnergy Seek Compromise With Renewables Supporters to Keep Nuke Plants Open?

The market forces shutting down coal plants are also closing carbon-free nuclear plants—and clean energy advocates are split on what to do about it.

Taxpayers shouldn’t foot the $8 billion bill to bail out a failing energy company

Coal emerges as power champion of the winter


Firearms manufacturer argues against 100% renewables mandate. New England’s environmental activists ignore the realities of the region’s energy challenges in arguing in favor of complete reliance of renewable energy sources, Tom Sullivan, senior vice president of operations for Sturm, Ruger, and Co., Inc., argues in an op-ed published in New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor. Such advocacy represents “a stunning abdication of responsibility for sound public policies to protect both the environment and the economy,” he says.

“While responsible environmental policies are necessary, to assume that somehow New Hampshire and New England can quickly move from natural gas to 100 percent renewable energy, while avoiding any new transmission to deliver renewable energy, is naïve and dangerous,” he writes, describing New England’s electricity costs as a threat to jobs in the region as employers look to other regions for lower electricity costs.


Newspaper takes sour view of Ariz. Efforts to nullify renewables ballot initiative. The Arizona Daily Sun’s editorial board is taking a dim view of efforts by Arizona lawmakers to insulate the state’s utilities from a proposed ballot initiative financially supported by billionaire activist Tom Steyer that would establish a 50 percent renewables mandate by 2030.

As the editorial notes, first state lawmakers passed a law signed by Gov. Ducey that made penalties for failing to meet the renewables mandate nominal. But after legislative attorneys raised concerns about the measure constitutionality, lawmakers took a different tack and approved a utility-backed measure putting a competing initiative on the ballot that would allow the Arizona Corporation Commission to nullify the renewables mandate if it raises electricity costs or impacts the well-being of the state.

The editorial noted that a utility analysis supported concerns about the economic and reliability impacts of such a renewables mandate, but cited contrasting studies suggesting that renewables offer cost savings Arizona consumers as well as produce jobs.

“Republicans and utilities like [Arizona Public Service] who want to stonewall renewables need to come up with better arguments – or just come clean on why the status quo is so much better,” the editorial concludes. ”So far, the move toward solar and wind has not bankrupted any utility nor sent energy bills soaring in any of the states where renewable portfolios have been tried. The current standard in Arizona is 15 percent renewables by 2020. If 50 percent by 2030 makes the November ballot, we’ll hope for a more robust and honest debate on the issues than has taken place so far.”


Utility study finds Montana’s consumers pay a cost for net metering. Customers with rooftop solar provide a small benefit, but not enough to warrant compensation they receive under Montana’s net metering law, concludes a Navigant Consulting study for NorthWestern Energy that was mandated by state lawmakers last year.

“Montana’s largest utility company concluded that the energy rooftop solar delivered back onto the grid had a net value of about 4 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s about a third of what net-metering customers are currently compensated,” Tom Lutey reports in the Billings Gazette.

“This thing’s really going to affect Montana’s energy future,” Montana Renewable Energy Association executive director Andrew Valainis says, suggesting that rapid adoption of rooftop solar by Montana homeowners and businesses will be impacted.


Writer explains co-op unhappiness with Tri-State G&T. Werner Heiber, writing in the Durango (Colo.) Herald to urge support for candidates to the La Plata Electric Association’s governing board, provides an excellent summary of the blowback Tri-State Generation and Transmission faces due to its bets on coal investments that have driven costs to co-op customers up by 87 percent over the last decade and a half:

“Major reasons are threefold: The ill-advised purchase of a coal mine instead of purchasing coal, attempting to build the now-canceled Kansas coal fired power plant resulting in a $100 million loss, and that coal is now the most expensive energy source.”

Heiber explains that Tri-State is now challenged by the imperative to sell expensive coal-generated electricity for years to come when wind-generated electricity sells for less than half the cost of coal “with PV solar not far behind.”

See also:

Colorado co-ops consider dropping their energy provider

A cooperative that serves four Western states could soon be losing customers amid concerns it’s not moving away from coal quickly enough.


Apple voices opposition to Clean Power Plan repeal

“As a large consumer of electricity who has successfully pursued a clean energy strategy, we believe the Clean Power Plan codifies and enhances positive long-term trends in the electricity market,” Apple Global Energy Lead Robert Redlinger writes in the statement. “The Clean Power Plan provides a national framework enabling states to ensure that renewable generation resources and more traditional forms of electricity generation are used in an integrated manner to support a reliable and resilient electricity grid.”


Other news of note:

As N.J. bails out nuclear industry, utility rates may go down . . . or up

If you pay a utility bill in New Jersey, price changes appear to be on the way, but whether they’re going lower or higher overall is much murkier.


Calif. Draft Would Adopt Fees, Security Levels for Municipal Aggregations

Central Maine Power Welcomes Audit, Says High Bills Are Explainable

Vermont Utility Regulator Orders Review Of Gas Pipeline

Tesla Powerwall is chosen for a virtual power plant in Lebanon, N.H., but Sunrun wants in

Pennsylvania Driving Toward an Electrifying Win

Lawmakers need to level the playing field for Pa’s electric-driving future | Opinion

Electric vehicles will transform the power grid. Will Illinois be ready?

An Illinois Commerce Commission discussion looks at how EVs will affect the state’s grid, utilities and customers.


“Want to change the world?!” Tesla is hiring a barista in New York

Maryland Senate passes bill to strip ‘green energy’ label from Baltimore trash incinerator

CenterPoint completes Houston transmission line project

The two key questions about going to 100% renewables in Los Angeles

Will it be solar or more solar in Hollywood? And can solar star without fossil fuel backup?

United States: Federal Court Upholds FERC’s Expansive Use Of Anti-Market Manipulation Rule In Power Market “Gaming” Case

Implementing Cybersecurity for the Smart Grid Is a Must

Harrop: Trump deregulation — sadly — is not for the birds

How Google and Walmart work with utilities to procure clean power

The Netherlands Built the World’s First Offshore Wind Power without Subsidies

Japan’s gas market deregulation reverberates widely

Liberalization of power, gas retailing not sufficiently benefiting consumers


Posted on

Electric Industry News, April 6, 2018

Today’s lede: Nuclear subsidies, paired with renewables, advance in New Jersey. Legislation providing for consumer subsidies of Public Service Enterprise Group’s nuclear plants is advancing in New Jersey, along with companion measures boosting renewable energy and offshore wind, requiring the state to obtain 50 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2030, Tom Johnson reports in

It’s another example of the playbook used in Virginia, where a Democratic governor’s support for utility-backed legislation is won by pairing it with clean energy advancement. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has set a goal for his state to obtain all of its energy supply from clean sources by 2050.

The package of legislative proposals moved out of their committees of jurisdiction after months of “contentious debate and false starts,” Johnson writes. The bills are expected to come up for a vote in both houses of the state Legislature next week.

The bills will impose billions of dollars in costs on New Jersey electricity consumers, rate counsel Stefanie Brand warned. The nuclear subsidy measure is projected to cost consumers $300 million a year, or $3 billion over the next decade. The clean energy measure would cost consumers $430 million over the next decade, she said.

See also:

NJ Landowners in Federal Court to Fight Pipeline Company

Dozens of New Jersey landowners were in court yesterday to challenge PennEast’s efforts to take possession of parts of their properties


FERC Staff Alleges PSEG ER&T Violated Tariff By Allegedly Submitting Incorrect Cost-Based Bids


‘We’ll be looking at 202,’ Trump says in W.Va. coal country. President Trump, at an event in West Virginia, said his administration would “look at” a request from FirstEnergy to exercise emergency authority under federal law to prop up the utility’s economically ailing coal-fired power plants. Trump referred to it as “202,” the section of the Federal Power Act establishing the emergency authority that FirstEnergy is asking the administration to utilize to intervene in the market in favor of the utility’s generation.

“We’ll be looking at that 202. You know what a 202 is? We’ll be looking at that,” Trump said. “We’re trying. Nine of your people just came up to me outside, ‘Could you talk about 202?’ We’ll be looking at that as soon as we get back.”

Specifically, the provision is Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act, which begins, “During the continuance of any war in which the United States is engaged, or whenever the Commission determines that an emergency exists by reason of a sudden increase in the demand for electric energy, or a shortage of electric energy or of facilities for the generation or transmission of electric energy, or of fuel or water for generating facilities, or other causes . . .”

Critics tend to emphasize the opening clause’s references to “war” and “emergency” to scoff that FirstEnergy is overreaching in its request, and a history of the Department of Energy’s use of its Section 202(c) authority shows that it was employed during hurricanes, the 2000-2001 California energy crisis and the 2003 blackout, but also during a few more prosaic events. But in every instance grid reliability was at risk. In this case, PJM Interconnection says there is no immediate threat to continued grid reliability from the closure of FirstEnergy’s economically struggling power plants.

Trump’s comments in West Virginia come a day after he reportedly met with FirstEnergy lobbyist Jeff Miller, who managed Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s presidential campaign.




Ohio PUC Initiates Proceeding To Protect Customers From FirstEnergy Solutions Bankruptcy

PUC Says It “Cannot Guarantee” FES Customer Contracts Won’t Be Impacted By Bankruptcy


Roberts: Why aren’t climate hawks ‘freaking out’ about nuclear closures? Former Grist contributor David Roberts, a long-time advocate for clean energy solutions and policies in response to climate change, has penned a provocative piece in Vox arguing that nuclear plants facing closure in the markets should be supported as non-carbon-emitting resources.

“Here’s my question: Why aren’t climate hawks freaking out about this?” Roberts posits after presenting data about the emissions impact of threatened nuclear plant closures by FirstEnergy and Exelon. “With a few exceptions, environmental groups are silent on the closures, or even support accelerating them.”

In a similar vein, see:

Ohio’s Kucinich Picks Nuclear Power


Analysis finds record low electric industry carbon intensity in 2017. An annual assessment of the carbon intensity of the U.S. electric industry has found that emissions last year were the lowest recorded in over two decades. While coal’s fall from grace and the increased market entry of renewable energy clearly is at play, there is also to consider that, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity use last year was at its lowest point since the 2008 economic downturn largely due to mild weather.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Carnegie Mellon University announced the results of the 2018 Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index at CMU Energy Week, hosted by the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.


Arizona lawmakers put competing renewables initiative on ballot. Voters in Arizona could be asked to consider two ballot initiatives in November that would alter the state constitution to require 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewables.

Lawmakers approved a utility-backed ballot measure, the“Clean and Affordable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment,” to compete with the “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment” being financed by billionaire political and environmental activist Tom Steyer.

While both would mandate 50 percent renewables, the utility-supported initiative would allow the Arizona Corporation Commission to nullify the mandate if it determines the renewables mandate would raise electricity prices or negatively impact the state’s well-being.

Howard Fischer, writing for Capitol Media Services, quotes state Sen. Steve Farley (D) as calling the measure “a cynical maneuver to try to confuse voters at the ballot so that they think this is the real clean energy initiative as opposed to one that’s being run by advocates at the same time.”



Other electric industry news of note:

Cheaper power bills? Rooftop solar wins major victory over utilities in SC House

Colo. clean-energy group criticizes Platte River Power Authority net-zero study

Bill to keep utility staff off Colorado Public Utilities Commission advances

Maine solar advocates powerless again as House upholds LePage’s veto by 3 votes

For the third year, a bill that would have supported the affordability of solar power among homeowners, and was approved by a majority of lawmakers, died at the hands of Gov. Paul LePage.

Maryland approves Washington Gas acquisition. Here’s what’s required

Dan Weeks: Setting the stage for a clean energy boom in New Hampshire

Opinion: Offshore wind energy could also power labor unions

Pennsylvania Utility Commission will investigate a proposed rate hike by Columbia Gas

Dispute over $5.4 million in legal fees for Aguirre may sink new San Onofre deal

How to Build a Foundation for New Utility Business Models

Regulatory reforms are becoming increasingly important, but regulatory processes can constrain the ability to design policies well.

CleanChoice Energy Launches CleanChoice Community Solar

New Platform Connects Customers and Community Solar Projects; Lowers Cost of Customer Acquisition and Servicing

PUCO Awards To Retail Supplier 100% Of Certain Low-Income Customer Load At DP&L

Study Says Clean Energy Options Could Replace Snake River Dams

Consumer Advocates Want More Protections For Illinois Electricity Customers


The power of unity: Consultant hopes to get Illinois cities to team up for cheaper electricity rates

French consumer group says EDF monopoly boosts power prices