MISO Confronts Capacity Problems

For much of its 15-year history, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (nee the Midwest Independent System Operator) didn’t pay much attention to the topic of “resource adequacy.” The regional transmission organization, in a region rich in baseload, coal-fired power plants, had a 30%-35% reserve margin through most of its years of operation. That excess in [...]

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Who Runs U.S. Grid Security?

An article in today’s Washington Post troubles me greatly. It outlines severe retention and moral problems at the Department of Homeland Security, the uber-agency created in the aftermath of the 9/11 horror. DHS – much like the Department of Energy in 1977 – was cobbled together in haste in 2002 from some 22 disparate agencies [...]

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Deadlock Strikes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The perils of having only four members in a five-member regulatory agency were on display this week at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The commission deadlocked 2-2 over whether to consider a complaint from activists claiming that the owner of the 1,530-MW coal-fired Brayton Point generating station near Boston manipulated an ISO-New England forward capacity [...]

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Dump ‘Nukespeak’ to Reach Broader Audiences

Washington, D.C. – A recent editorial in the industry news service World Nuclear News struck an intellectual and emotional chord for me. The editorial argues that the nuclear industry must “ditch the jargon” of the nuclear industry in order to reach out more effectively to the financial community. I agree completely and would broaden the [...]

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Can FERC Nominee Honorable Beat the Clock?

Washington, D.C. – With the departure of John Norris, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may once again face a long period of a vacancy on the five-member commission. While the Obama administration has announced its intention to nominate Colette Honorable, chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, to fill the vacancy, the clock is working [...]

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Seismic Specter Arises Again at Diablo Canyon

Washington, D.C. – Last month’s 6.0 earthquake in California’s Napa Valley has again raised the issue of whether the U.S. nuclear regulatory system adequately accounts for seismic activity in its safety analysis of the 2,000-MW Diablo Canyon plant. Diablo Canyon is the last operating nuclear station in the state and located well away from the [...]

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Could FERC Implement a Carbon Price Equivalent?

Washington, D.C. – Many economists and policymakers believe that the best way to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions is the simplest: a market-based price on the emissions. But that approach – either through a direct carbon tax or a somewhat more convoluted cap-and-trade mechanism – is simply not politically possible, as the Obama administration has [...]

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At DOE’s 37th Birthday, Was it a Wise Creation?

Washington, D.C. — Congress enacted legislation creating the U.S. Department of Energy in August of 1977. The agency began operating in October of 1977. Was that wise legislation? In the 37 years since its creation, much has changed in the U.S. energy economy. When Jimmy Carter pushed Congress to create the energy department, the U.S. [...]

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Will the Smart Cloud Bypass the Smart Grid?

Washington, D.C., August 17, 2014 – Samsung Electronics last week announced that it has acquired a Washington-based home electronics firm, SmartThings, for an undisclosed sum. The move is further evidence that the electric utility industry’s still forming visions of a smart grid to control customers energy use could be bypassed by wireless technology and the [...]

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Norris Says ‘Arrivederci FERC’ and Heads to Rome

In a series of events that could have been choreographed by the Three Stooges, John Norris yesterday resigned his seat on the Federal Energy Commission. He will become the top official representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Italy, thanks to his old friend and former boss, USDA secretary Tom Vilsack. The Norris resignation has [...]

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