Regulatory & Legal

  • NESCO: empower states, aggregate incident data, help frontline

    Oct 29, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Patrick Miller, president/CEO of EnergySec and principal investigator for its offshoot, the National Electric Sector Cybersecurity (NESCO), a public-private partnership operated by EnergySec with funding from the Department of Energy shares his views on cyber security.

  • ICC approach on cost recovery is slowing projects

    Oct 29, 2012 | David O'Brien

    A former regulator, now consulting with Commonwealth Edison in Illinois, expresses concern that Ilinois regulators are applying an inappropriate cost recovery mechanism to interest on billions of dollars in capital invested for grid modernization. 

  • Nimbleness helped address customer concerns

    Oct 28, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Central Maine Power had a plan: install AMI and develop customer benefits in consultation with them, while creating the basis to move forward with distribution automation and power quality monitoring. The utility ran into meter opposition that caused it to modify its messaging and communication plan. And it completed its rollout, with an opt-out option, third-party plaudits and time to look ahead again.  

  • SGCC study shows education increases favorability

    Oct 22, 2012 | Phil Carson

    The more consumers learn about grid modernization, the more they like it and support it. But the needle measuring consumer awareness hasn't moved in a year, despite widespread smart meter rollouts. That's good news and bad news in one.

  • Making lemonade out of lemons

    Oct 21, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Looking forward, digital meter rollouts are coming to fruition, leading to projections of declining sales. Looking back, the rollouts were not fully considered. Utility benefits came first and direct, tangible customer value came a distant second. Today, despite that misstep, it looks as if industry inertia has been positively affected. But the AMI mission remains far from complete.  

  • Innovator's legacy should be a best practice

    Oct 18, 2012 | Phil Carson

    John Hoffman died this week. Don't know him? Ever heard of Energy Star? The original idea was a brilliant way to motivate the masses to achieve energy efficiency. Given utilities' marching orders to achieve EE goals, reviewing Hoffman's ideas is worthwhile.

  • Lack of cyber attack proves nothing

    Oct 16, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Federal authorities are capable of overreach and redundant demands, but the lack of a major cyber disruption of the U.S. grid cannot be taken as a reflection that the power sector has done its work well. More angles on an issue that will never go away, post-9/11.

  • What's the logic behind a potential cyber attack?

    Oct 15, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Two utility executives walk into a bar, order drinks and badger each other over the logic behind the cyber security threat. Who are these people? What is their intent? How would attacking the grid advance their interests?

  • Possible executive order raises industry concerns

    Oct 07, 2012 | Phil Carson

    This past summer, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 failed due to a Senate filibuster inspired by industry lobbying. The Obama Administration has publicly raised the possibility of an executive order that merely asks industry, including the power sector, to develop best practices in coordination with the federal government, for voluntary participation. 

  • If `data is currency,' sell high!

    Oct 02, 2012 | Phil Carson

    The advent of "do not track" features and a sense that an individual's Web-browsing behavior has monetary value to the person creating it spurred our columnist to muse on how valuable energy use data might be, especially if mashed up with other personal details.

  • New papers argue for a way forward

    Oct 01, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Prepay has been a success for Salt River Project for decades, with high satisfaction among certain customer segments that opt-in for it. Yet traditional consumer protections aren't well-suited to prepay and other programs enabled by grid modernization. Two new papers address the issue, one on regulatory hurdles, the other advocating a way forward. 

  • California rules soon on communities' rights

    Sep 30, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Several utilities with opt-out provisions for smart metering have reported very low numbers of customers are seizing the opportunity, perhaps due to the added cost they bear. Meanwhile, state regulators continue to examine issues of cyber security and data privacy related to digital metering. 

  • Readers call for third-party access to customer data

    Sep 27, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Our readers weigh in on the Green Button, complaining that regulators have yet to allow third-party access to customer energy data to create compelling value. The concept is sound and we're open to hearing the practical details on how that will be achieved while protecting data privacy. 

  • Group's survey could impact policy debates

    Sep 17, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Low-income customers figure in many power industry discussions over policy, technology and smart grid-era programs such as dynamic pricing. But what does this demographic think and feel about utility issues? The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative has done a survey to find out the facts.

  • Two takes on last week's "Five Grid Issues"

    Sep 06, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Are fossil fuel emissions really a bad thing or much ado about nothing? Are smarter grids more resilient or is that just industry hooey? Is our columnist a "zealot" or just another misinformed stooge? Two readers take different tacks.

  • Utility's smart meter learnings inspire new approach

    Sep 04, 2012 | Phil Carson

    PG&E is applying hard-won lessons in customer engagement to ensure that small- and medium-sized business customers are prepared for state-mandated dynamic pricing progams taking effect this November. The utility used interval meter data to identify which customers would be adversely affected and ensured they had full information on the program and guidance on how to mitigate impacts. 

  • Law allows free opt-out, requires health, privacy reviews

    Aug 24, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Advocates of grid modernization have to repeat the reasoning for progress, in the face of misinformation. In Vermont, the state legislature has allowed free opt-outs from smart metering and mandated reviews of privacy and health concerns. We discuss the principle and the practical. 

  • Readers react to notion of tying prices to costs

    Aug 16, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Perhaps reflective of our era, the debate over dynamic pricing appears to pit facts and data against anecdote and invective. Our readers comment on our series on dynamic pricing, the conversation of the month and the topic of the year. The topic isn't going away so alternative views backed by data are welcome and will be featured in a future column.

  • Data over perception = billions of $$ in savings

    Aug 07, 2012 | Phil Carson

    How in the world can a utility and its regulators transition to dynamic pricing? Oh, the horrors! One pricing expert offers a simple, straightforward way to proceed, step by step. At each juncture, there's an opportunity to find that it doesn't work, and a chance to recognize that it does and to continue the transition. 

  • Data over perception = billions of $$ in savings

    Aug 05, 2012 | Phil Carson

    In a recent presentation to regulators at NARUC's summer meeting, pricing expert Ahmad Faruqui argued that facts should trump misperceptions around dynamic pricing. And he offered steps on how to get there from here.