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Articles by Kristina & Jason Makansi

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  • Some good news for wind and solar

    For those who have long been frustrated with the pace of progress in energy storage for electricity, we are happy to finally report a bit of good news.

    Two weeks ago, Jason moderated a panel at "Investing in Energy Storage Technologies," a conference in New York City sponsored by Financial Research Associates, LLC. Unlike most industry conferences on storage (meetings where we all sit around preaching to the already converted), bona-fide, real-life energy tech investors attended this one. Plus -- and here's where it gets exciting -- there were actually two presentations that together could very well signal the increase in interest and investment needed to commercialize energy storage technologies for our electricity grid.

  • The high price of electricity deregulation

    In David Cay Johnston's NYT article "A New Push to Regulate Power Costs," he writes about the fact that many states are rolling back their deregulatory initiatives. The main reason, he says, is price.

    Ahh, price. That magic number at the nexus of supply and demand. The problem with price in electricity markets is that it is not determined by supply and demand, as in a free, deregulated market -- even in those states where there was, supposedly, deregulation.

    In fact, we've long argued that deregulatory initiatives, as they were designed and implemented, had nothing to do with what most people understand as "deregulation" at all. Johnston points out that retail price controls, artificially induced competition on the wholesale side, and same old-same same-old metering does not a free market make. As Peter Van Doren of the Cato Institute says, "Just calling something a market does not make it a market."

  • No surprises here, please

    The electricity grid doesn't like surprises. Sudden voltage spikes or sags do not a healthy grid make. So proponents of large-scale solar and wind are working to create tools to smooth over volatility issues, so these generating resources can be integrated seamlessly onto the grid. If we're going to be in a position to rely on more solar and wind power and use these to replace significant amounts of power generated from coal, the grid planning and dispatch issues must be addressed.

    Which brings us to yesterday's announcement by Tucson Electric Power (TEP) that they have received a $100,000 federal grant to study the problem as it relates specifically to solar power. Under the grant, they will "evaluate how effectively solar energy systems can replace traditional utility generating resources."

    TEP will also evaluate "the true costs and benefits" of the almost 400 photovoltaic (PV) systems their customers have already installed in their service area through their SunShare program.

    Read more here: "TEP Wins Federal Grant to Evaluate Solar Energy Systems."