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Energy Newsbriefs Blog

This current awareness service is prepared by the WSU Energy Program Library with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program. This information is provided for energy professionals and interested members of the public to highlight recent energy-related news, articles, and reports that discuss energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable sources of energy in engineering and policy circles.


Category: Utilities


US Utilities and Distributed Generators: Enemies No More?

Cogeneration & On-Site Power Production, Jan.-Feb. 2014.

"The US utility market is changing and the traditionally dominant players are seemingly beset on all sides. Could the distributed generation sector hold the key to a new business model? Elisa Wood spots signs of a new relationship."

Achieving Balance: Exploring the "Why" of Voltage Optimization

Rural Electric Magazine, Mar. 2014, by Courtney Barry.

"Some electric co-op engineers see it as a real catch-22: maintaining a system that can support or allow a reduction in voltage while ensuring that adequate voltage is received by every consumer, all the way to the end of the line. But with the right tools and some forethought, achieving that balance doesn't have to be an insurmountable challenge, says Jim Weikert, automation consultant for Power System Engineering ( in Madison, Wis."

Standby Rates for Combined Heat and Power Systems: Economic Analysis and Recommendations for Five States

Prepared by Brubaker & Associates, Inc. and the Regulatory Assistance Project for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ORNL/TM-2013/583, Feb. 2014.

"Standby, or partial requirements, service is the set of retail electric products for customers who operate onsite, non-emergency generation. These rates represent the cost of services utilities provide when customer generation is not operating or is insufficient to meet full load. Trends show that distributed generation is not rare anymore and that old ideas about risk have been replaced by utility operator confidence in anticipated performance. This paper presents the results of an analytical assessment of the rates, terms, and conditions for standby service in five states: Arkansas, Colorado, New Jersey, Ohio, and Utah."

New Frontiers in Energy Management [for Water Utilities]

Water Efficiency, Mar./Apr. 2014, by Penelope B. Grenoble.

"Energy management has become a matter of necessity in states like California, less enthusiastically embraced in states where energy costs are lower. But take a closer look, and you’ll discover that energy and operational efficiency go hand in hand—and that managing energy costs goes beyond simply equipping a pump with a variable speed drive."

Storage Steps Up: Could Grid-integrated Batteries Change the Way Power Producers Operate Fossil Power Plants?

Fortnightly's Power Profit, Feb. 26, 2014, by Scott M. Gawlicki, Public Utilities Fortnightly.

"Duke Energy Renewables’ 153-MW Notrees (Texas) Wind Power Project includes a 36-MW advanced lead acid battery – the largest capacity battery facility in North America. Duke says developing expertise in this advanced technology will help expand the use of renewable energy, better integrate it into the power grid, and make the company more efficient at serving customers. Could batteries and other storage technologies affect the way power producers evaluate and operate their generating assets – in particular fossil fired generating assets they currently rely on to supply ancillary services?"

Testing and Screening Energy Efficiency Programs

State & Local Energy Report, Winter 2014, by Robin LeBaron and Kara Saul-Rinaldi.

"Cost-effectiveness testing is crucial to the future of energy efficiency programs. Commissions and utilities use cost-effectiveness tests to make decisions about which energy efficiency and other demand-side programs to fund. If a new energy efficiency program doesn’t pass the tests, it may never be created. And in some states, programs are being constrained or even eliminated as a result of these tests.

The National Home Performance Council (NHPC) is proposing a solution in the form of a new framework for the tests. The Resource Value Framework (RVF) proposes a number of strategies for ensuring that the tests provide decision makers with accurate information. They include a worksheet to promote transparency and balance in test inputs, alignment of the tests with existing state policies, and use of best practices

Knowledge is Power: Understanding Changes in Utility Incentive Programs

Building Operating Management, Feb. 2014, by Loren Snyder.

A 3-part article:
Pt. 1 - Facility Managers Need to Understand Changing Market to Maximize Utility Incentives and Rebates
Pt. 2 - Trend in Utility Incentive Programs is Toward More Monitoring, Proof of Performance
Pt. 3-Utility Incentive Programs Will Require Stricter Monitoring, Offer Greater Benefits

Out of Balance: The Law of Unintended Consequences is Already Affecting Power Markets in Europe....

Electric Perspectives [Edison Electric Institute], Jan./Feb. 2014, by Jeffrey Altman.

"The law of unintended consequences is already affecting power markets in Europe and offers valuable lessons for power markets in the rest of the world. Over the last decade, various well-meaning governments and regulators across have created short-sighted renewable energy policies without fully assessing the implications of their actions."

Arizona Starts Charging Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

State & Local Energy Report, Winter 2014.

"In a decision that could have far-reaching impacts on the solar industry, the Arizona Corporate Commission (ACC) voted in November to allow the state’s largest utility to charge a monthly fee to customers who install photovoltaic panels on their roofs."

Active Power Controls from Wind Power: Bridging the Gaps

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Technical Report NREL/TP-5D00-60574, Jan. 2014.

"NREL, along with partners from the Electric Power Research Institute and University of Colorado and collaboration from a large international industry stakeholder group, embarked on a comprehensive study to understand the ways in which wind power technology can assist the power system by providing control of its active power output being injected onto the grid. The focus of this report is a mitigation strategy that is not often discussed and is in some ways counterintuitive: the use of wind power to support power system reliability by providing active power control (APC) at fast timescales."


The Energy Newsbriefs Blog is a continuation of the weekly Energy Newsbriefs. Please bookmark this site and return frequently. Although we will not be accepting comments from within the Blog, we would be happy to hear from you by email at

Archives of the weekly Energy Newsbriefs, from Oct. 2012 – Jan. 6, 2014, may be found on the WSU Energy Library web page.