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The Energy Industry Update – Volume 18, Issue 1


We are well over a year into a new Presidential administration, changes in policy and priorities—as well as changes in personnel in agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—continue to affect the energy industry. But changes in our business context are not limited to policies. Technology development continues, increasing interest in energy resources like solar and energy storage. How are states and the private enterprise responding?

Themed “Recalibration,” this Update examines some of the emerging and continuing trends in the industry, with the hope that it will help energy executives “recalibrate” as our industry anticipates, and creates, the next “new normal.”

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Highlights include:

View from the Executive Suite

What are the emerging themes and trends defining the energy industry?

Energy Supply, Demand, and Markets

What are the issues in competitive electric markets, and what can be done? How will federal energy regulators and policy-makers approach increasing concerns about resilience as our generation mix changes? What is the outlook for renewable natural gas?

Infrastructure and Technology

What is Massachusetts doing to enhance its grid and accommodate new, cleaner power resources? What are the key drivers in the expected growth of energy storage? What is robotic process automation, and what are its potential applications for utilities?

Rate and Regulatory Issues

Why are utilities and regulators considering alternative ratemaking mechanisms? With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposing repeal of the controversial Clean Power Plan (CPP), what if anything comes next?

Clean Tech and Environment

How are Europeans, particularly in Belgium and The Netherlands, approaching changes to the grid, increasing renewable resources, and pursuing “smart city” aspirations? In the United States, how are corporations structuring their purchases of renewable energy as these deals continue to proliferate?

ScottMadden’s EIU Webcast

Take a step back and consider what is happening, what it means, and where our industry is headed. Hear our industry experts share their views and field questions related to corporate renewable power purchase agreements, CPP repeal and replacement, and energy storage in this webcast recording.

Since 1983, we have served more than 400 clients, including 20 of the top 20 energy utilities. We have performed more than 3,000 projects across every energy utility business unit and every function.

We hope you will find The ScottMadden Energy Industry Update to be a useful and informative resource. If you would like to discuss our observations in greater detail, have us present them to your executive team, or suggest a topic for future issues, please contact us. Learn more about our Energy Practice area.

View from the Executive Suite

Executive Summary

Over a year into a new presidential administration, policies affecting energy and utility firms are changing. States are responding, seeking alternative regulatory approaches that accommodate new technologies while enhancing the grid and enabling future innovation. Private enterprise is responding too, with new tools and business approaches such as corporate renewable power purchase agreements. Read more

Tax Reform for Utilities: Kind of a Drag?

After a sometimes contentious debate, in December 2017, the Republican-controlled Congress passed tax reform in the form of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Utilities and regulators are trying to navigate its implications. Read more

Energy Supply, Demand, and Markets

Resilience and Resources: Markets Take Notice

Wholesale markets have tried to refine their pricing mechanisms, the power generation resource mix is changing, and the impact of state policies on wholesale markets is being hotly debated. Now a federal inquiry into resilience will add a new dimension to a complex economic and political issue. Read more

Renewable Natural Gas: Renewed Interest in a Long-Established Resource

Biogas has been around for a while, but it is beginning to garner interest as a clean energy resource in both the United States and Canada. Read more

Infrastructure and Technology

Massachusetts: Laying the Groundwork for Distributed Energy Resources

Massachusetts, long a leader in progressive energy policy, seeks to modernize its grid and accommodate distributed energy resources. Read more

Energy Storage: More Than a Feeling

Battery energy storage is gaining traction, as stakeholders pursue both policies and business models to further deployment of energy storage. Read more

Robotic Process Automation: A Step toward Artificial Intelligence

As futurists talk of robots and artificial intelligence, robotic process automation is a technology that is here now as utilities begin to deploy it. Read more

Rate and Regulatory Issues

Beyond Traditional Cost-of-Service Ratemaking: Alternative Approaches Get Traction

As electric utilities have seen declining rates of consumption growth, interest in distributed energy resources and efficiency, and a growing need for grid investment, they seek to balance customer needs and preferences, investor expectations, and the public interest, without jeopardizing affordability. What alternative rate mechanisms are being examined? Read more

Clean Power Plan Repeal and Replacement: What’s Next?

As the EPA has proposed repeal of the highly contentious and litigated CPP, it has also floated a potential successor regulation. Will it matter? Read more

Clean Tech and Environment

Update on Europe: Head of the Class or Middle of the Pack?

A fact-finding mission to Belgium and The Netherlands reveals progress on decarbonization and clean energy but finds that Europeans have not found the silver bullet and are facing similar challenges to those in North America. Read more

Corporate Renewable Power Purchase Agreements: A Boost for Renewable Energy Development

Large corporations are buying increasing amounts of renewable energy and have used some creative structures to contract for their clean power. Read more

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