Visual Primer: Texas Power Outages Draw Scrutiny into Grid Operator’s Market Design and Reliability

The widespread power outages across Texas during the extreme winter weather conditions brought about by a polar vortex in mid-February has raised questions about the reliability of the power grid operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. (ERCOT). The grid operator, which manages about 90 percent of the state’s electric load, reported that 48.6 percent of generation was forced out at the highest point due to the winter storm.

Texas Regulator Investigates Retail Electric Providers’ Business Practices After Winter Storm Grid Event

The Texas Public Utilities Commission on Feb. 24 launched an investigation into retail electric suppliers’ business practices following complaints of skyrocketing bills for plans with pricing indexed to the wholesale rate in the aftermath of sweeping power outages caused by extreme winter weather conditions. Although indexed plans are allowed under law, an influx of complaints…...

Visual Primer: State Decarbonization Goals Spur Innovative Resource Planning Measures

Innovations in energy planning continue to emerge as state regulators devise programs and explore solutions that effectively meet customer needs and support policy goals. Recent state initiatives range from New York’s efforts to align gas planning with climate goals, to Maine’s investigation into the future design of the grid to accommodate growing renewables, and California’s transmission planning guidance to achieve ambitious decarbonization goals.

Sweeping Outages Prompt Investigation into Role of Texas Grid Operator

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Feb. 16 declared the reform of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, an emergency item in the current legislative session, following rotating outages resulting from extreme winter weather brought about by a polar vortex which primarily affected the Midwest and Southern regions of the U.S.  Abbott directed the…...

RPS Mapper – U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards February 2021 Update

State renewable portfolio standards are a key driver behind the torrid expansion of wind and solar generation across the U.S., responsible for about half of the nation’s deployment of clean energy sources over the last couple of decades. Over three dozen states, territories and the nation’s capital have set mandatory or voluntary targets. On Feb.…

Policy Primer: Net Metering Reforms

Net metering policies continue to evolve as state regulators seek to make rate structures more equitable to address cross-subsidy issues arising from the growing penetration of distributed solar generation. Net energy metering (NEM), which credits customer generators for grid-exported power, has been a key component of the policy framework to spur investment in customer-sited renewable energy facilities, including solar and energy storage systems. Successors to original tariffs are considering a range of factors including avoided utility costs, value to the grid, cost-shifting, and energy demand.

Connecticut Regulator Establishes New Residential Program to Replace Net Metering

The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority on Feb. 10 established a residential renewable energy program that will replace current net metering, as well as the residential solar incentive program starting January 1, 2022.  The initiative creates tariff options for residential customers to buy products generated from a Class I renewable energy source located on their…...

Delaware Law Raises Renewable Portfolio Standard to 40 Percent by 2035

Delaware Governor John Carney, a Democrat, signed legislation on Feb. 10 which increases the state’s renewable portfolio standard for regulated utilities to 40 percent by 2035, up from the prior target of 25 percent by 2025. The bill also raises the solar carve-out to 10 percent by 2035, nearly tripling the previous level of 3.5…...

Policy Primer: Competitive Retail Electricity Markets

Interest in retail electric competition has been growing as innovative sources of energy production emerge, giving consumers an active role in managing their power supply. This has led to increased oversight as policymakers and regulators explore reforms to enhance customer protections while encouraging the development of a competitive market.

Michigan Regulator Explores Rate Design for Distributed Energy Resources

The Michigan Public Service Commission on Feb. 4 established a workgroup to analyze rate design options for distributed energy resources. The commission also adopted a definition for utility pilot projects and criteria for pilot program reviews under the MI Power Grid initiative, the state’s grid modernization effort intended to maximize the benefits of the shift…...

Southwest Power Pool Launches New Electricity Market for Western Utilities

Southwest Power Pool on Feb 1 launched its Western Energy Imbalance Services market designed to balance generation and load regionally and in real time. The initiative is the latest in a series of measures to better serve the Western Interconnection and is expected to lower electricity costs and enhance price transparency. Moreover, the move will…

Visual Primer: Renewable Natural Gas Emerging as Utility Decarbonization Strategy

U.S. state regulators and utilities alike are exploring the use of renewable natural gas (RNG) due to its environmental benefits to displace fossil fuels and to support the transition to a low-carbon energy economy. RNG is pipeline-quality methane produced from biomass that is sourced from livestock operations, landfills, and other organic waste.