Discussing Energy Economics on the Internet

The Stimulation Chart

Posted in USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the October 14th, 2008

Earlier this month President Bush signed the Energy Improvement and Extension Act which provides economic stimulus to a range of renewable energy, alternative fuel, clean power and energy efficiency schemes. Want to know where there handouts went? Energy Legal Blog has the full details.

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A New World Order

Posted in Nuclear,UK,USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the September 23rd, 2008

Several hundred years ago the French helped the Americans throw off the yoke of British Imperialism. These days, however, Frenchmen are rather less welcome over the other side of the Atlantic than they are on the other side of the Channel. The Wall Street Journal reports that Constellation Energy has accepted a takeover bid of $26.50 per share from Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings even though they had a rival bid from EdF worth $35 per share. Constellation cites confidence in Buffett’s legendary financial acumen, immediate access to funds, and ease of obtaining regulatory approval as the primary reasons for their seemingly unusual choice. (Knowledge Problem has more links.)

EdF, as we have been noting for some time, is keen to acquire nuclear generation assets elsewhere in the world, and it is the nuclear issue that the WSJ thinks was the stumbling block for Constellation. America’s nuclear generation in the hands of garlic-eating foreigners? No thank you. But French money is rather more popular in Britain. The Times reports that the board of British Energy has accepted a revised bid for their company from EdF. An announcement is expected this week to coincide with the Labour Party Conference, so that Gordon Brown can welcome his French friends with a great fanfare. Nelson, Wellington and Henry V are doubtless turning in their graves, and William the Conqueror will be having a good laugh at their expense.

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PJM Capacity Market Ruled Fair(ish)

Posted in Capacity Markets,USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the September 23rd, 2008

Last week FERC ruled on a dispute about the new Reliability Pricing Model (RPM), PJM’s stab at a means of ensuring resource adequacy. Energy Legal Blog has a good summary of the ruling, written by Maria Urbina. For the most part FERC ruled in PJM’s favor, noting that most of the complaints were, in Urbina’s words, “implementation angst” – that is, when a new system is introduced there will always be winners and losers, and mostly this complaint was the losers yelling “it’s not fair!”. On the other hand, PJM was given a few things to think about.

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Nature’s Energy Election

Posted in USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the September 3rd, 2008

Nature has put together a panel of experts to discuss how energy and climate issues will play out during the US Presidential election. The panel discussion has been podcast and you can listen to it here.

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Loop Flow Updates

Posted in Electricity Transmission,USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the August 27th, 2008

Energy Legal Blog has their say on the issue, and Platts reports on new measures taken by NYISO to combat future attempted scams.

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Loop Flow Scam Update

Posted in Electricity Transmission,USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the August 26th, 2008

Over at Knowledge Problem, Michael Giberson has an update to the story about the artificial congestion scam that affected NYISO and PJM. Giberson quotes Power Markets Week as saying that FERC is indeed conducting an investigation into the affair. Whether something will be done about it is another matter. PMW says:

Getting something like multiregional coordinated dispatch could solve a number of these issues, sources said, however the move would be extremely difficult because RTOs would lose some autonomy with a super pool, and states may be reluctant to give up some control.

Also, sources said some participants, particularly generators, may be reluctant to see better coordination because it may take away some profitable opportunities such as when price spikes occur across RTO borders.

And then someone will come along and claim that this is a clear case of “market failure”.

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EdF Spends Elsewhere

Posted in Nuclear,UK,USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the August 15th, 2008

While EdF is still talking about investing in the UK, and British Energy blusters about how it doesn’t need foreign help to build new power stations, the French energy giant is busy diversifying its risks.

Earlier this week EdF increased its stake in US-based Constellation Energy, and is expected to invest further in the coming years. EdF is, of course, in the general business of electricity generation and retail around the world. However, its specific interest in Constellation is tied to UniStar, a joint venture between the two companies intended to develop, you guessed it, a new generation of nuclear power stations in the USA.

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Further Blackout Reactions

Posted in Electricity Transmission,USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the August 15th, 2008

Other people’s commentary on the blackout anniversary can be found at the following sites:

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Blackouts: An Unsolved Problem

Posted in Admin,Electricity Transmission,USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the August 14th, 2008

Five years on from the great East Coast blackout of 2003, Scientific American revisits the issue and asks is we are any closer to finding a cure for such occurrences. Worryingly, despite all of the talk of reliability standards and smart grids, it appears that we are not:

If the standards have reduced the number of blackouts, the evidence has yet to bear it out. A study of NERC blackout data by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that the frequency of blackouts affecting more than 50,000 people has held fairly constant at about 12 per year from 1984 to 2006. Co-author Paul Hines, now assistant professor of engineering at the University of Vermont in Burlington, says current statistics indicate that a 2003-level blackout will occur every 25 years.

You can find the original research here (Look for the paper called “Trends in the History of Large Blackouts in the United States”.). A password is required, but it is relatively straightforward to obtain. And the conclusions of the paper are actually somewhat stronger than Scientific American reports. By some of the measures used, the frequency of blackouts is actually increasing slightly.

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Sometimes Protests Work

Posted in Renewables,USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the July 3rd, 2008

Last week we reported on the decision of the US Bureau of Land Management to place a 2-year moratorium on all new solar power planning applications in order to do an environmental impact study. The decision was widely condemned by the renewable power industry and the irony of the situation caused many newspapers around the world to take up the story. Even Congress woke up. As the New York Times reports, one of the Colorado Representatives joined in the protests. Yesterday the BLM reversed the decision. The BLM will now continue to process new applications, though they will also continue with the environmental impact study in parallel.

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