Burns & McDonnell - Watch our T&D How videos
Energy Industry Update - ScottMadden

ETRM & Markets

Trading on a Knife Edge

A few months back, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission directed Deutsche Bank Energy Trading LLC to show cause why it shouldn’t be assessed a civil penalty of $1.5 million and be made to return some $123,000 in allegedly unjust profits from power trading in markets run by the California ISO.

Image: 
In referring the Deutsche Bank matter to FERC for possible enforcement action, the California ISO’s department of market monitoring found that DBET traders had established a pattern of circular trading, by purchasing power exports out of CAISO at the Silver Peak intertie node, moving them across Sierra Pacific Power transmission to the Summit node (the E-Tag dotted line), and re-importing the same power back into CAISO, to be wheeled back to the starting point, in a manner “inconsistent with ISO and FERC ma
This figure depicts a hypothetical combination of supply and demand bids that could’ve created a situation of “degeneracy” at the Silver Peak intertie node, by which the market-efficient, security-constrained, least-cost dispatch solution under the California ISO market tariff could’ve indicated not a single, unique market-clearing locational marginal price (LMP), but a range of prices, falling between the lowest-priced supply bid (import bid) and the highest-priced demand bid (export bid)—any one of which
Category: 
Commission Watch
Author Bio: 

Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.

The Deutsche Bank case and the meaning of ‘price manipulation.’

Bill Hogan, Unbundled

A no-holds-barred interview with the electric industry’s chief architect of wholesale electric market design.

Category: 
People In Power
Author Bio: 

John A. Bewick is Fortnightly’s contributing editor and formerly was secretary for environmental affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He holds advanced degrees in nuclear science and business management.

A candid commentary on current topics in electric restructuring.

Gas Without Regrets

Gas-fired generators and suppliers alike can each share risk and reward from historic low prices with contracts that blend market and fixed prices

Image: 
Figure 1 - Coal and Natural Gas Generation (January 2005 through October 2013)
Figures 2 - 4 - Fixed, Collared, and Hybrid Agreements
Figure 5 - Maximum Regrets for Electricity Generators and Gas Suppliers
Figure 6 - Potential for Locking-In Affordable Gas-Fired Power
Category: 
Energy Risk & Markets
Sidebar: 
Sidebar Title: 
Presuming Prudence
Sidebar Body: 

In 2010, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter signed the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, which, among other things, explicitly encouraged long-term gas supply contracts. The law specified procedures for commission approval and discouraged subsequent look-back by future commissions.

In April 2012, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved a competitive procurement rule that created new opportunities to enter long-term contracts for natural gas and other fuels. The rule created “an open, transparent, fair, and nondiscriminatory competitive bidding process” that would enable Oklahoma utilities to obtain a presumption of prudency for approved agreements.3

A report recently released by the National Regulatory Research Institute noted the proactive measures taken by Colorado, Oklahoma, and Oregon to promote long-term natural gas contracts, while the majority of state commissions provide little guidance.4 – GS and PB

Author Bio: 

Gregory C. Staple (gstaple@cleanskies.org) is the CEO and Patrick Bean (pbean@cleanskies.org) is an energy policy advisor at the American Clean Skies Foundation.

How suppliers and generators can each gain from today’s historic low prices.

Bridging the Seams

With no single entity in charge, transmission planning has plagued projects that span multiple regions. A new framework offers a solution.

Image: 
Figure 1 - Building Blocks for an Effective Interregional Planning and Cost Allocation Framework
Sidebar: 
Sidebar Title: 
Cost Allocation Principles: An Expanded List
Sidebar Body: 

FERC Order 1000 listed six principles for cost allocation for interregional transmission planning. FERC’s list, however, could be expanded as follows:

1) Commensurate with Benefits: The cost of interregional transmission projects should be allocated to regions such that they are at least roughly commensurate with total benefits identified for each of the regions based on the benefits and metrics specified. Neither region should be allocated a share of the cost of an interregional project in which it receives no benefit.

2) Transparency: The application of cost allocation methodologies and identification of benefits and beneficiaries must be transparent.

3) Different project types: Different cost allocation methods may be applied to different types (e.g., reliability, economic, or public policy requirements) or different portions of transmission facilities.

4) Quantify and Monetize: The identified benefits should be quantified and, if possible, monetized based on all internally used and additionally specified interregional benefit metrics. Non-monetized and non-quantified benefits should also be recognized in the assessment of the overall reasonableness of proposed interregional project cost allocations.

5) Benefits at Least Equal to Avoided Costs: The regions should agree that the monetized reliability, load serving, public policy, or other benefit of an interregional project will be at least equal to the avoided cost of achieving the same benefit solely through cost-effective local or regional transmission upgrades.

6) Hurdle Rate: If benefit-to-cost ratios are used to assess the desirability of an interregional project to a region or the regions as a group, the benefit-to-cost threshold must not exceed 1.25.

7) Regional Net Benefits: Benefits to each region need to be sufficiently large so that each region’s share of benefits exceeds its share of costs consistent with region-internal benefit-cost criteria.

8) Internal Cost Recovery: The costs allocated to each region must be recoverable through the existing internal—local and regional—cost allocation process of each region.–JP, JWC, and DH

Author Bio: 

Johannes Pfeifenberger and Judy Chang are principals of The Brattle Group. Delphine Hou is a former Brattle associate. This article is based on work undertaken for the Southwest Power Pool’s Regional State Committee and the associated report, Seams Cost Allocation: A Flexible Framework to Support Interregional Transmission Planning, April 2012, available at www.spp.org and www.brattle.com. The authors acknowledge sole responsibility for the content of this article.

Interregional planning under FERC Order 1000

A Pricey Peninsula

High prices have turned Michigan against regional planning -- a possible foretaste of what to expect under FERC Order 1000.

Image: 
Figure 1 - Proposed Multi Value Project Portfolio Overview
Figure 2 - MISO Prices May 29, 2012 – 1:05 P.M.
Figure 3 - May 29, 2012 – 2:05 P.M.
Figure 4 - May 29, 2012 – 3:35 P.M.
Category: 
Commission Watch
Author Bio: 

 

Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.

Michigan chafes over regional grid planning, providing a policy lesson for the feds.

RTO Tango

Utilities in the Midwest ISO want greater access to sell into PJM’s lucrative market. But that might require a virtual merger of the two RTOs — a move rejected seven years ago as too costly, and perhaps still impractical today.
Image: 
Category: 
Commission Watch
Author Bio: 

Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.

PJM and MISO ran from the altar once before. Now there’s talk of a shotgun wedding.

Hedging or Betting?

Many utilities engage in hedging to protect customers from price spikes. But unless regulators are involved in crafting and monitoring these programs, they can turn into speculative ventures that put ratepayers at risk — for the benefit of shareholders.
Category: 
Business & Money
Author Bio: 

John A. Neri is a principal with energy consulting firm Benjamin Schlesinger and Associates, and is a lecturer in economics at the University of Maryland.

Lacking regulatory oversight, financial hedges turn into risky speculation.

Load as a Resource

Historically, grid operators tapped into voluntary load reduction as a last resort for keeping the lights on. But now, smart grid technologies and dynamic pricing mechanisms bring vastly greater potential for using load as a dispatchable resource. Effective implementation requires advanced technologies—and also foresight in creating programs, policies, and market mechanisms.

Image: 
Author Bio: 

Audrey Zibelman is co-founder and CEO of Viridity Energy, and formerly was chief operating officer at PJM. Chika Nwankpa is a professor and Director of the Center for Electric Power Engineering (CEPE) at Drexel University. Alain Steven is co-founder and executive vice president of strategy at Viridity Energy, and formerly was chief technology officer at PJM. Allen Freifeld is senior vice president of law and public policy at Viridity Energy, and formerly was a commissioner on the Maryland Public Service Commission. 

Integrating controllable demand into real-time, security constrained economic dispatch.

Double Trouble in PJM's Capacity Market

New Jersey’s bid to force prices downward in PJM’s capacity market not only raises the alarm about market manipulation. It also reveals a dilemma that’s preventing new generation from being built. Incumbent interests and political motivations make PJM less attractive to investment than it should be.

Image: 
Category: 
Energy Risk & Markets
Author Bio: 

Ade Dosunmu is managing director at Capacity Markets Partners. Previously he held senior management positions at Utility Risk Management Corp., Comverge, and Booz & Co., and he co-founded energy efficiency service company GreenPrimate Inc. Email him at adosunmu@capacitymarkets.com

Policymakers and industry seek a formula to assure competitiveness and resource adequacy.

Learning to Love Congestion

In competitive power markets based on locational marginal pricing (LMP), the facts sometimes conflict with popular belief. Most notably: 1. When there’s congestion, the books don’t balance, and ratepayers always pay more than the generators receive. The difference is sometimes called “congestion cost.” 2. Congestion in a competitive market doesn’t necessarily increase ratepayers’ costs; and 3. Reductions in LMP are incomplete and sometimes misleading measures of economic benefits of transmission upgrades. These three facts and their implications should be considered in transmission planning, market design, tariffs, and system operations.

Image: 
Category: 
Energy Risk & Markets
Author Bio: 

Hyde M. Merrill (hm@merrillenergy.com) is the proprietor of Merrill Energy, LLC. Richard D. Tabors (rtabors@crai.com) is a vice president at CRA International, and previously was a faculty member at MIT. The views in this article are solely the authors.’ They acknowledge the insightful help of J. Dan Watkiss.

Competitive market problems and their implications for customers’ net costs.