In today’s AUSenergy News Update: Federal court motion filed against new capacity zone, energy efficiency bill a casualty of Keystone XL debate, and a proposed NY State energy plan would fundamentally change utilities.
Summary: A legal motion was filed by Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation in the US Court of Appeals in New York. They are seeking a stay on further capacity auctions under the new zone. The company is also asking the court to order FERC to act on previously filed petitions requesting moderation or elimination of the new zone.
AUS Comment: FERC’s ruling to approve the new capacity zone is intended to attract private enterprise to build power plants in the mid-Hudson and the areas to the south. Opponents to the new capacity zone are mostly concerned with the projected price increases in customer electricity bills. If approved, customers in the Lower Hudson Valley will likely see at least a 6% increase and businesses will see a 10% increase in their electricity bills.
Summary: U.S. Senate Republicans blocked a widely supported bi-partisan energy-efficiency bill, forfeiting a chance to vote on the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The energy efficiency bill called for improved building codes and required federal data centers to find ways to consolidate and become more efficient. The blocked bill would have created nearly 200,000 jobs and save consumers billions of dollars a year by 2030.
AUS Comment: This bill promised to be the first constructive, common-sense energy bill to emerge from Congress in seven years. According to another Bloomberg article, as the law neared a vote, an amendment was added that would approve the Keystone XL extension ahead of the President. Senator Harry Reid refused to allow a vote on the Keystone pre-approval amendment to the energy bill and instead offered a vote on a separate bill which would have done the same thing. Senate Republicans retaliated by blocking a vote on the main bill, killing it dead.
Summary: The New York Public Service Commission has proposed turning the state’s electric utilities into a new kind of entity that would buy electricity from distributed generation and set prices for that electricity and for the costs of running the power grid. Instead of distributing electricity themselves, utilities would effectively direct traffic, coordinating the distribution of electricity that could be produced by a multitude of smaller entities which could also include distributed rooftop solar panels and small wind turbines. Utilities would become like traffic cops in a two-way flow of power.
AUS Comment: The constant push for clean renewables, energy efficiency and the constant development of disruptive innovations in the energy market in the form of solar panels, smart meters, learning thermostats and the like will eventually push all electric utilities to make reforms that will look very similar to the changes called for in the PSC’s proposal.
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