A Movable Feast
-Monday, August 19, 2019
This is a picture of my daughter, Miles, with all the “critters” of the house surrounding her. Perhaps our two mutts and cat can sense she will be leaving soon. It’s mid-August and my daughter is getting ready for her first year of college. My son will soon begin his second year of matriculating. It will be a quiet house; my wife and I will move into the next phase of our life. We’re still “parents” but it will be different. I can’t help but be a bit melancholy at the prospect of this new life. I know it has possibilities that were unknown to us the last 19 years, but I will miss those kids.
Raging at the Machine…
-Thursday, July 11, 2019
I was passing time waiting for a flight out of San Francisco and I ran across a LinkedIn article by a very bright friend of mine – Ron McNamara – on incentives and market outcomes. Ron used to oversee Markets in MISO, and before that, he worked for AEP. The gist of the piece is that if you have a financial interest in an organized electricity market, then you should also be invested in that market’s architecture and rules. In markets for equities, credit, or “normal” commodities there is a clear ownership structure and relatively light regulatory oversight. The imperative is to make sure nobody can game the market, but the outcomes are between willing buyers and sellers. Not so for electricity. Consider for a minute; who “owns” the CAISO? Who “owns” SPP or PJM or MISO?
This is Getting Muddy...
-Wednesday, May 8, 2019
When you are from a small state like Kentucky, you pay particular attention to things that are part of your cultural fabric. College basketball comes to mind, although my primary team is the University of Louisville, not the better-known program down the road in Lexington. UofL is not my alma mater but Columbia University isn’t a frequent participant in high level hoops competition and, you gotta go with your home town. Similarly, the Kentucky Derby is a big deal for any Kentuckian. I always watch the Derby, stand when the horses are brought on the track and the band plays “My Old Kentucky Home”, and enjoy the most exciting 2 minutes in sports.
This past week, I got to spend quality time with western state regulators and industry folks at the CREPC-WIRAB meeting in Salt Lake City. Meetings of NARUC are good, but most state regulatory bodies have a variety of industries to regulate from natural gas and electricity to taxis and other things of public interest. Consequently, it was great to have folks from all over the West discuss how the grid is going to manage so many challenges; from carbon policies in the coastal areas of the West to the changes in the generation mix all over the interconnection. This focus is the real benefit of CREPC-WIRAB – plus visiting beautiful Salt Lake isn’t bad either.
It was a strange week. A lot of travel, but it was all in the Eastern time zone – evident by the humidity in the air as Spring begins to arrive in the East. It began with a trip to Columbus, Ohio to present before the State Commissions in the PJM region on FTRs and then to Miami, FL to the WSPP meeting where I moderated a panel on the PG&E bankruptcy. Strange, but interesting.
Ch, ch, change…
-Wednesday, March 27, 2019
I was having lunch with a former colleague at FERC and took a moment to appreciate the changes in the Commission’s Northeast DC neighborhood. I can recall working there in the early 2000s and it was quite sketchy just a block or two away from FERC. This sprint, walking to lunch in the crisp Atlantic air, I took in the sight of all the new apartments and other buildings. When I passed a Gelato place across the street from a Whole Foods, I figured it was safe to say that part of DC had changed.
When I began my tenure with WPTF last year, the outlook for market development in the West was bright. The CAISO had grown the Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) and looked like it could even change its governance to evolve from this incremental step into a true regional market. The folks in the Mountain West were set to join SPP. The PEAK Reliability Coordinator (RC) had joined PJM to offer a credible platform for the economical implementation of a regional market. That was soooo January 2018.
I was raised in Louisville, Kentucky. My father and mother were socially progressive for their time. One was never allowed to use a racial epithet. My father, a state Senator, sponsored or co-sponsored legislation to advance civil rights and the environment. When I went to Columbia University as an undergraduate, I had no problem adapting to the liberal social environment. New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s was an exciting brew of cultures.
My wife and I attended a party Saturday night in Washington, DC. So, we used some credit card points to stay at a plush hotel near the White House. Over a leisurely breakfast, I read the weekend edition of The Financial Times – yes, I am that much of a geek. An article on the PG&E financial crisis and possible implications for financing “green” energy projects caught my attention. It suggests possible lessons, not just for California, but all states that wish to promote renewable power.
I frequently am reminded by my kids – and my CAISO Committee Chair, come to think of it – that I often “date” myself with my cultural references. Oops, I did it again with the above referenced lyrics from “Buffalo Springfield.” But these words come to mind as I contemplate the relentless evolution of carbon issues in states across the country and how they are dealt with in an economically efficient manner – or not.