America’s Power Plan collects the latest research on smart energy policies from the leaders in America’s power sector transformation. In addition to our blog below, we also produce periodic newsletters (sign up here) on current topics to help policymakers and other stakeholders stay up to date on important questions.


Energy Storage: Still Waiting for Markets to Catch Up

America’s Power Plan’s Eric Gimon explains how current rules and regulations keep energy storage from realizing its full revenue potential. Acknowledging the barriers to market growth, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued Order 841 to stimulate access to wholesale energy markets. Gimon provides detail on how storage can generate revenue, evaluates the independent system operators responses to Order 841, and shows how wholesale markets can adapt to take advantage of the benefits of storage.

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Steel for Fuel: Hitting the Sweet Spot on Risk, Return, and Scale for Investors and Customers

America’s Power Plan released four new reports on transitioning away from uneconomic coal assets, focused on financial transition impacts, managing depreciation, swapping debt for equity, and embracing a “steel for fuel” investment strategy. The article below, an abbreviated version of the Steel for Fuel brief, highlights how early retirement of uneconomic coal assets can improve rather than destroy shareholder earnings if the utility is allowed to reinvest capital in new renewable plants. In cases where renewables are cheaper than operating existing coal, swapping steel for fuel and adds value for investors, customers, and the environment.

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U.S. Utilities Face Dramatic Change: Here’s How To Succeed At Utility Business Model Reform

Utilities in the United States have adopted new responsibilities, and their century-old business model is struggling to accommodate growing policymaker and customer demands.

These demands will only increase after new governors and legislatures were elected in dozens of states this month, meaning new policy leadership as governors appoint utility regulators and state legislatures set new energy goals – both have power to reform utilities and meet unmet demands.

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How Dumb Distribution Spending Crowds out a Smart Clean Energy Future

The two trends of falling wholesale energy prices and declining load are making traditional utility-led investments in generation harder than ever to justify. As a result, investor-owned utilities are doubling down on distribution and transmission spending as primary investment strategies. But, as GridLab’s Ric O’Connell explains for America’s Power Plan, this rash of investment isn’t just concerning from an affordability standpoint, it is eating into the value of clean resources like flexible demand and storage.

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Three opportunities for regulators to encourage beneficial electrification

Even though electrifying some buildings and many vehicle types is already cost-effective, electricity policy veterans know that change rarely sweeps unchallenged through these highly regulated sectors. Widespread beneficial electrification requires anticipating and removing technical and institutional barriers to take full advantage of technological trends. Unless policymakers start preparing for the electric wave today, its positive benefits may either be delayed or never materialize.

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Proactive support for coal and nuclear communities

While the demise of coal power in the U.S. due to economic forces has been well documented, there is no clear plan for the communities left behind. At the federal level, discussions center around Soviet-style financial interventions to save uneconomic coal and nuclear plants by paying their owners what’s needed to remain profitable. This month, we analyzed six soon-retiring power plants owned by Ohio-based FirstEnergy to show the potential to redirect those funds to the communities that stand to lose the most in the energy transition.

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Putting D.C.’s “DER Authority” proposal into context of utility reform options

In a May 2016 Trending Topics piece, we wrote that regulators can pursue either outcome-oriented or information-intensive approaches to solving the utility information problem, and get the most out of clean, distributed energy resources (DERs). Two years later, experimentation is happening and solutions are emerging, albeit relatively slowly, centering around integrated distribution planning and performance-based ratemaking. in Washington D.C., a new model has emerged as a possibility – vesting the authority for data sharing and distribution system optimization into a public third-party entity.

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Connecting the Dots – Saving Time, Money, and the Environment with Smart Planning for Power Lines and Renewable Energy Development

As the United States renewable energy market continues growing and our energy needs evolve and shift to cleaner sources, the way clean power is transmitted to our communities must follow the same responsible siting as the energy projects themselves. Wilderness-quality lands, important wildlife habitat, and cultural resources areas are not appropriate for transmission lines and energy development. Thankfully, an ongoing process shows how we can build regional transmission projects crucial to a clean, reliable, affordable energy future without sacrificing environmental stewardship.

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