Insights

PACE Loans Attract Attention as They Grow in Size

March 20, 2017

Partially driven by securitization and strong investor appetite, property assessed clean energy (PACE) loans are forecasted to double over the next year and potentially become the fastest growing method of financing in the United States. However, as these loans have ballooned they have come under criticism by consumer and real-estate industry groups.


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EDGE Chats: The Outlook for Clean Tech

March 16, 2017

Chris Vlahoplus, Partner and Clean Tech & Sustainability Practice Leader at ScottMadden, discusses the outlook for clean tech in 2017, changes on the horizon, and career opportunities in the energy sector. The EDGE Chats series, hosted by EDGE at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, examines leading issues and trends at the intersection of energy, environment, and business.

For more information about this segment, please see the new EDGE blog post.

The Winds of Change: SPP Tops the 50% Wind Penetration

March 14, 2017

On February 13, 2017, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) became the first regional transmission organization (RTO) in North America to serve more than half of its load from wind energy.


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The Flexible Coal Plant – How Some Coal Plants Are Transitioning to Peak Load

March 14, 2017

Due to new economic and political priorities, increasing interest and investment in renewable energy, growth in distributed energy, and cheap natural gas, power systems are being forced to adapt. Reduction in the share of electricity generated by coal is occurring and it is expected to continue. How can baseload coal plants thrive when they are not always in the money?


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Illinois Future Energy Jobs Bill Focuses on Nukes, but Will Also Have Large Impacts on the Grid

March 14, 2017

In December 2016, Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) that covers many sectors of the power industry and establishes a zero emissions credit (ZEC) that will help nuclear plants. There are also several other aspects of the bill that will impact the Illinois utilities, including new incentives for energy efficiency and renewables development. These elements of the bill are forecasted to increase intermittent generation from renewables, add more distributed generation, and increase energy efficiency through targeted spending programs.


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An America First Coal Plan: Will Changes in U.S. Policy Favor Coal?

March 3, 2017

Several weeks into the new administration, Trump’s energy policies, including those expressed in the “An America First Energy Plan,” are showing favor to the use of fossil fuels, indicating the potential for a rebound in coal use within the energy sector. While many in the coal industry have expressed a promising future, analysts have questioned whether the changes in direction from the Obama administration, including the repeal of the Clean Power Plan and other regulations, will result in any sustainable gains for coal.


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Illinois Regulators Establish Pathway for Utility to Share Anonymous Energy Use Data to Advance New Energy Technologies

February 27, 2017

Earlier this month, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved a proposal from Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) that will allow the utility to share anonymous customer energy usage data it collects through its installed smart meters. ComEd will be one of the first utilities in the country given the authority to make its usage data available to researchers, energy management specialists, and other companies in the energy space to enable them to develop new products and services to benefit ComEd customers. According to Val Jensen, Senior Vice President of Customer Operations at ComEd, “One of the great benefits of smart meter technology is the availability of data that will enable a growing sector of energy tech companies to design new products and pricing programs that will help customers save money and meet the growing interest for more choice and personalized services.”


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Strategic Issues and Opportunities Facing the Energy Industry: What Would Yogi Berra Say?

February 21, 2017

ScottMadden recently performed original research employing five years of CAISO data to examine the duck curve and its causes. Our research confirmed that the 2013 duck curve prediction made by CAISO is coming true and faster than expect. But, it also revealed some surprises about what is causing the duck curve and, therefore, how to manage it. The presentation, shared at S&P Global Market Intelligence’s 30th Annual Power and Gas M&A Symposium, focused on a broad range of topics including the “duck curve.”


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Proposed $1B Investment by California Utilities Signals Next Phase in Rollout of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

February 17, 2017

In January 2017, California’s investor-owned utilities filed proposals with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to spend a combined $1.07 billion over the next five years to accelerate adoption of electric transportation.


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Robotic Process Automation: Keys to a Successful Implementation

February 15, 2017

In “Robotic Process Automation: Innovative Transformation Tool for Shared Services,” we introduced the transformational tool called Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This software addresses numerous challenges for corporate and shared services as an efficient, cost-effective alternative to traditional process approaches. RPA implementations are increasing in popularity due to the money and resources RPA saves businesses over time. Once you decide that RPA is the right process solution for your needs, ScottMadden can help you develop a customized strategy to ensure a successful implementation.


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Regulatory and Legislative Changes Affecting Rate-Case Strategies

February 1, 2017

Rick Starkweather, partner and regulatory practice leader at ScottMadden, recently developed a research article titled, “Regulatory and Legislative Changes Affecting Rate-Case Strategies.” The article is featured in the February 2017 edition of the Natural Gas & Electricity Journal, a publication available through the Wiley Online Library; which is one of the largest and most authoritative collections of online journals, books, and research resources.

This article provides a comprehensive look at the evolving regulatory framework for utilities. It examines key industry drivers, evolving business models, and some of the changes in state jurisdiction regulations around distributed energy resources before delving into rate-case strategies to respond to these changes.

For more information about our energy practice, click here.

Proactive Solutions to Curtailment Risk: Identifying New Contract Structures for Utility-Scale Renewables

January 30, 2017

The Hawaiian Electric Companies face a unique risk with regards to curtailment of utility-scale wind and solar projects due to the high penetration of distributed solar on their system. Historically, curtailment has been done in “reverse chronological order”, meaning the oldest (and, often, most expensive) projects are the least likely to be curtailed. This structure is not sustainable over the long term, as higher and higher curtailment risk will necessarily
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