Utility Investors Risk Billions In Rush To Natural Gas: Is It A Bridge To Climate Breakdown?

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The U. S. power sector’s rush to build out natural gas capacity poses billions in financial risk for utility investors, but smart policy and shareholder advocacy can cut emissions and economic risks.

Natural Gas: A Bridge To Climate Breakdown

Permalink to Natural Gas: A Bridge To Climate Breakdown

The rush to build more than 60 gigawatts of natural gas plants and pipelines risks tens of billions in investment and a trillion dollars in consumer costs by 2030. This report outlines these evolving risks for shareholders, lays out investor strategies to accelerate the clean energy transition, and shows how clean energy cuts utility investment risks from over-reliance on natural gas while providing new growth opportunities supporting decarbonization.

Transmission Policy: Planning for and Investing in Wires

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This whitepaper, written as part of America’s Power Plan, describes the need to update and improve America’s grid infrastructure. This is especially important as new energy sources and distributed generation are increasingly added to the system. This paper suggests five…

Power Markets: Aligning Power Markets to Deliver Value

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This whitepaper, written as part of America’s Power Plan, discusses the need to redesign power markets to account for the increased role of renewables and demand-side resources in the electricity sector. The main themes for future power markets are to increase energy efficiency, upgrade system operations to enable short-term flexibility, and upgrade investment incentives to enable long-term flexibility. This transition requires fewer and larger balancing areas, enhanced weather forecasting, encouragement for customer-side technologies and demand-side resources to improve flexibility, and increased frequency of dispatch decisions.

New Utility Business Models: Utility and Regulatory Models for the Modern Era

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This whitepaper, written as part of America’s Power Plan, describes the changing role of electric utility companies as new technologies for energy efficiency and distributed generation pose threats to their traditional business models. Aging infrastructure, changing customer demands, and stricter environmental and climate regulations additionally incite the need for evolution of utility structures. This paper offers recommendations for several types of utility structures, but focuses mostly on vertically-integrated and regulated utilities. It outlines three future scenarios for utilities; minimum utility involvement, medium involvement as smart integrator; or orchestrator; or maximum role as energy services utility.

Policy for Distributed Generation: Supporting Generation on Both Sides of the Meter

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This whitepaper, written as part of America’s Power Plan, discusses the growth of distributed generation by end-use consumers and how this threatens traditional utility business structures. It argues that customers and utilities must forge new relationships that account for these changing conditions. The paper states that this future relationship between centralized and distributed resources will depend primarily on financial structures and how both types of electricity services are priced to reflect their true values.

Distributed Energy Resources: Policy Implications of Decentralization

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This whitepaper, written as part of America’s Power Plan, describes the role of distributed energy resources, also known as ‘the internet of electricity,’in the electricity sector and how its emergence alters the sector’s traditional centralized structure. It recommends three options for expanding distributed energy resources so that a renewable electricity future can be achieved. These recommendations include 1) analyzing the costs, benefits, and trade-offs associated with distributed energy resources; 2) level the playing field between new distributed resources and traditional centralized energy by adapting utility business models and wholesale market structures to become more competitive, and 3) encourage innovation in technology and services to expedite the adoption of distributed and renewable resources.

Finance Policy: Removing Investment Barriers and Managing Risk

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This whitepaper, written as part of America’s Power Plan, discusses investment opportunities to support upgrades to America’s aging grid system. Financing upgrades to the grid system requires policy, regulation, and market structures that 1) eliminate barriers to cost-effective financing by enabling long-term debt and equity financing, and 2) enable investors to realize the full value of the new assets they deploy, such as reduced emissions or increased reliability.

Rethinking Policy to Deliver a Clean Energy Future

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This paper provides an overview of America’s Power Plan (APP), a series of papers on how policymakers, market operators, and utilities can address changing market conditions head-on. The papers cover wholesale market design, utility business models, finance policy, transmission policy, distributed energy resources, distributed generation, and siting. Energy Innovation’s Director of Strategy, Sonia Aggarwal, directed research for APP’s development.

Aligning Power Markets to Deliver Value

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Power markets and power market mechanisms could use an upgrade to take advantage of new resources and fairly compensate the resources already on the system for the services they provide. Power markets should increase energy efficiency, upgrade system operations to…