Clean Power Plan Rules‚ but Utility Industry Faces Plenty of Regulatory Edicts in 2015

Posted By: Rod Walton‚ Senior Editor

The grid modernization portion was lauded by Ed Abbo‚ president and chief technical officer at Redwood City‚ California-based C3 Energy‚ a six-year-old startup focused on application software in smart grid analytics‚ cloud computing and data to improve power delivery.

Abbo’s boss‚ C3 Energy CEO Thomas Siebel‚ told a House subcommittee on energy and power that as much as $2 trillion will be invested globally to upgrade the grid infrastructure throughout this decade‚ with half of that spent in the U.S. A crucial part of that upgrade will be the addition of sensors needed in meters and other smart grid devices‚ Abbo echoed. Those sensors‚ in turn‚ will cut down on the costs of line loss‚ energy inefficiencies and give dramatic‚ informed power back to both the utilities and the customers‚ he said.

Utilities just need financial encouragement to make those investments. Abbo predicted that the grid modernization bill‚ if approved‚ can do just that by allowing companies to move the costs of advanced analytics and cloud-based computing into the rate-paying structure. Previously‚ many companies have booked those new-era investments as operating expenses rather than capital expenditure costs.

“That’s one of the obstacles or hurdles the bill will help remove‚” Abbo said. “The bill encourages regulators and utilities to treat investments in advanced energy analytics and cloud-based (services) as investments they can get rate recovery on.”

Real-time analytics and sensors can improve reliability‚ lead to fewer outages and help consumers save money by giving them data on rate costs and usage patterns‚ he added.

All in all‚ the modernization act can unlock $50 billion value on both sides of the utility-customer equation‚ or $300 per meter per year‚ in C3’s estimation.

“There’s no need for subsidies‚” Abbo said. “These are investments that pay off in net positives.”

View the full article on Electric Light & Power’s website here.