Electric utilities have great potential to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant throughout the power sector’s imminent transformation. A confluence of factors – new and cheap technologies, declining electricity demand, and increased action against climate change – are driving this change. To account for these factors, utilities must evolve from electron suppliers to system optimizers, and they ought to be rewarded based on performance rather than sales.
This paper discusses the potential role for Staircase Capabilities Markets as a pricing mechanism to tackle some of the major issues associated with load balancing as more variable sources are added to the grid. This involves long-term planning for investment certainty, as well as flexible, small volume requests for proposals to encourage capabilities experimentation. The paper includes a California case study, provides a list of systems that could effectively participate in the market mechanism, and discusses the conditions of transitioning toward a new energy paradigm.
This op-ed piece discusses the successes and failures that Germany has encountered during its Energiewende, or energy transition. Despite the country’s many achievements in renewable energy policy and practices, energy customers remain concerned with the increase in variable energy sources creating an unreliable supply of electricity or raising energy bills. As Germany’s electric power system continues to evolve, policymakers will need to consider how existing programs, market structures, and utility business models will need to change in order to remain effective and relevant.
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.
This report discusses the future for electric utility companies as ‘disruptive’ technologies, flattening energy load, and environmental regulations all potentially threaten their traditional business model. It proposes new business opportunities for utilities, giving special attention to performance-based ratemaking. Several case studies are included to demonstrate various elements of performance-based ratemaking, followed by best practice principles and recommendations. A version of this paper was published in the July 2014 issue of the Electricity Journal.