Publications

Evaluating Options for Enhancing Wholesale Competition and Implications for the Southeastern United States

Given stated stakeholder clean energy and consumer goals, this paper offers a way to evaluate options for enhancing competition, compared to how utilities traditionally operate the electricity grid. The focus here is on wholesale transactions between generators and utilities serving end-use customers. These utilities then sell electricity at retail to their customers, and in many regions including the Southeast, they are state-regulated monopolies responsible for serving their customers at least cost.

Competition Case Study—The Southern Grids: 2000–2006

This case study lays out the four Southern proposals submitted to FERC, and chronicles how this directive played out in the South. In a sidebar, the case study also describes the retail competition vision being explored in North Carolina during the same time period. While the Southern Grids did not launch, the GridSouth (in the Carolinas) and the GridFlorida proposals reflect a concerted effort by the participating utilities to explore market creation, as well sustained engagement – and some support – by regulators and stakeholders.

RTOGov: Exploring Links Between Market Decision-Making Processes and Outcomes

The RTOGov project seeks to explore the links between decision-making processes and outcomes in our power markets. Led by researchers at Duke University and funded through a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, RTOGov is a growing network of researchers exploring the most important decision-making bodies never heard of in the United States.

Profits and Productivity: Stimulating Electricity Demand in Low-Income Settings

As electricity companies in low- and middle-income countries move deeper into rural regions, the cost of new connections generally increases while the electricity demanded by these new customers remains lower than urban and peri-urban customers. This is a challenging dynamic for utilities looking to sustain their financial health as well as for governments tasked with engineering viable strategies for achieving universal electrification.

Harnessing Competition in a Transitioning Electricity System: Opportunities for Traditional Cost-of-Service States

Cost-of-service states with vertically integrated utilities can manage a rapidly changing electricity sector by expanding opportunities for competition, even while maintaining the traditional vertically integrated utility. In fact, competition has been deployed successfully by cost of service states to meet customer needs, bring down costs, and encourage innovation.

State Participation in Resource Adequacy Decisions in Multistate Regional Transmission Organizations

The fight over which resources power the grid and how much is required has intensified as flattening electricity demand, low natural gas prices, and preferences for non-emitting technologies push less efficient power plants to retire. The focus has been on substantive solutions, and most recently on attempting to “accommodate” state energy policies in the regional electricity markets—with disappointing results to states, consumer advocates, and clean energy businesses. Missing from this debate is process reform.

The True Cost of Solar Tariffs in East Africa

Over a billion people around the world continue to lack access to basic electricity, many of them unlikely to be connected to the grid for years or decades. Pay-as-you-go solar home systems (SHS)—kits that consumers can frequently purchase on credit that include a small solar panel, battery, light bulbs and wires, phone charging equipment, and sometimes televisions and other appliances—have quickly become a viable, private sector-driven solution that empowers consumers to take control of their energy future.

Issues on the Horizon at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent agency regulating the interstate transport of energy. As innovations and changing consumer preferences reshape the energy industry, FERC must grapple with key issues. This policy brief summarizes pending issues before FERC, including grid resilience, market reforms that would affect newer technologies and non-emitting resources, and transmission and gas pipeline infrastructure build. How FERC decides on these issues would impact consumer costs, determine which resources would receive revenues from FERC-regulated markets, help shape infrastructure investments, and affect the costs of decarbonization policies.

Beyond Financing: A Guide to Green Bank Design in the Southeast

Green banks use funds to reduce the risk for private investment to support energy efficiency and clean energy. As local governments and corporations across the Southeast make progress on ambitious clean energy goals—including some with 100 percent renewable energy targets by as early as 2025—demand is growing for financing to make those goals attainable. This primer outlines the design elements of a green bank and explores how a green bank might leverage public funds in the Southeast to create a robust market for clean energy investment.

Improving Market Design to Align with Public Policy

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates wholesale capacity markets, is looking to reconcile market design with state, and potentially federal, policy preferences. In an effort to mitigate this apparent tension in the gas- and coal-heavy Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed a framework on June 29 for carving out those policy-sponsored resources from PJM's capacity market. The June order poses many questions and leaves open many details for stakeholders to resolve ahead of the close of FERC’s initial round of public comments on October 2, 2018.  This policy brief offers recommendations to improve the efficiency of the developing proposals and help those responding to the FERC order understand the implications of different design choices related to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's proposal.