At least 36 GW of uneconomic coal-fired capacity is forecast to be retired by 2024. These policy briefs highlight how to help utilities balance stakeholder interests, facilitate the financial transition away from uneconomic coal, and help states embrace clean energy.
Early retirement of uneconomic coal assets can improve shareholder earnings if a utility is allowed to reinvest capital in new renewable energy generation. When building new renewables is cheaper than operating existing coal, swapping steel for fuel adds value for investors, customers, and the environment. This brief addresses equity shareholder perspectives and suggests how potential funding sources can mitigate impacts on communities and workers affected by early plant retirements while improving environmental performance.
By analyzing publicly available financial information, policymakers and utility stakeholders can identify where running existing fossil fuel generation costs more than replacing it with new wind or solar. A suite of financial instruments can facilitate and reduce costs of this financial transition away from fossil fuels toward clean energy. This brief uses Colorado’s experience transitioning from coal to clean energy as a case study analyzing existing generation costs, and introduces financial tools to help electric utilities that own fossil generation manage the clean energy transition.
Every utility regulatory model has embedded incentives. This list is intended to help state policymakers and other stakeholders pinpoint questions they can ask and answer to explore how incentives from cost of service regulation and performance regulation relate to today’s power system goals.
Utilities should consider two business models when considering their role as distribution system operators (DSO). In the first, the utility would represent a DSO and run the centralized system, with full visibility into available resources for real-time load balancing and responsibility for construction and maintenance, and be compensated on meeting policy goals. In the second, the utility owns the system, reveals its needs, with a separate DSO entity meeting those needs and integrating all assets including DERs.
The prospect of large grid modernization investment triggers a key question – is it worth it? As different states consider upfront investments in modernizing the grid, regulators need ways to ensure utilities maximize the potential benefits of grid modernization. This white paper provides program design considerations and metrics that can guide utility investment and increase the chances that customers get the most out of grid modernization efforts. A version of the paper was also published in Electricity Policy, and can be found here.
This paper explores which regulatory models align utility profit with societal value under scenarios in which traditional, utility-owned solutions may not be optimal for customers. The cases in this paper offer insight into whether and how cost-of-service regulation and its alternatives (performance incentive mechanisms and revenue caps) can align utility shareholder values with societal values.
This white paper is the first in our Incentive Mechanism Design series, which offers perspective on how regulators might decide to design performance incentive mechanisms for success. The paper examines California’s Risk-Reward Incentive Mechanism (RRIM) as a case study to show that, while counterfactuals may be appropriate as an adjustment mechanism, they can also lead to unfair outcomes and unnecessary regulatory conflict.
This white paper is the first in our Incentive Mechanism Design series, which offers perspective on how regulators might decide to design performance incentive mechanisms for success. The paper explores different approaches to simplify the measurement of energy efficiency savings to better align utility incentives with efficiency outcomes. These metrics can be helpful for many states where utility revenue is linked to energy efficiency, but their programs are bogged down in tedious and controversial evaluation, measurement, and verification requirements.
Performance-based regulation shifts utility focus away from capital investment and sales volume, putting focus instead on delivering value for customers—in the form of an affordable, reliable, and clean power system. We have produced several papers and briefs that offer perspective on more of the details of performance-based regulation.