Posts filed under ‘Chris King’

Bar exam results test California law applicants’ mettle

Each year, 6 pm on the Friday before Thanksgiving is the moment of truth for law school graduates who took California’s bar exam the previous July.

Most sit alone, some in family groups (as I did), and navigate to the California Bar Association web site. Then, they (my wife did this for me) click the “submit” button after entering their application ID number. Finally, they learn whether it’s time to celebrate — or to dig deep and discover how strong their will to succeed truly is.

Of nearly 8,600 test takers this year, 3,972 now have to decide they are going back to the trenches to start digging in for February’s re-take or, even more painfully, decide a law career is not part of their destiny.

My odyssey — which ended happily on Friday — began five years ago…

Full story: Friday before Thanksgiving tests California law applicants’ mettle


November 22, 2010 at 10:22 pm

California PUC Approves Landmark PG&E “Smart Utility” Project

Many states and countries have aggressive targets for renewable energy, including 30 U.S. states and the European Union (see graphic). A typical target is 20 percent by 2020, though the most aggressive is California, with 33 percent by the same date. Last week, the California PUC approved PG&E’s solar plan – complete with an increase of $1.45 billion in rate base and the associated profits. And the plan will increase, not reduce, reliability.

For more:

April 26, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Policymakers Must Act to Maintain U.S. Smart Grid Jobs Lead

As the world transitions to a clean energy economy and fights climate change, we’ll need a smarter power grid to make it work – and put Americans to work.  The US today leads the world in the development of smart grid technology, but we must act decisively to leverage our early smart grid advantage to help create millions of American green jobs.

Yes, millions: a new report from the American Solar Energy Society estimates that aggressive deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency can create up to 4.5 million new US green jobs by 2030.

Moreover, according to ASES, “many of these jobs cannot be easily outsourced [to other nations] due to their on-site nature.”

We’re already on the road to realize these opportunities. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invested over $4 billion in smart grid development. On Dec. 15, 2009, Vice President Joe Biden released a progress report indicating that the immediate employment payoff on this could be up to 104,000 new, near-term jobs. These are a big part of an estimated 826,000 new jobs created by energy-related ARRA stimulus investments so far. This could reduce the number of unemployed workers by 6%, and lower the overall US unemployment rate from 10% to 9.4%.

But the smart grid jobs picture isn’t just about inventing, manufacturing, selling, and installing smart meters and associated technology here and abroad. Much like the Internet, the smart grid will become a crucial economic platform. It will create entirely new business opportunities based on better ways of making, using, and understanding energy.

Because of its vast potential benefits, the smart grid will happen. But will the US continue to lead?

Our smart grid lead is at risk. We face serious competition from China, which has already made major inroads into solar and wind technology.  China already has the highest carbon emissions and will soon be the leading global energy consumer. China has a strong motive to deploy a smart grid fast — and is already working to beef up its capacity to develop and deploy this technology.  And, critically, China has committed to 100% deployment of the Smart Grid by 2020.  The US?  No commitment and no date.

China’s top-down approach to both technology development and power grid policy allows it to move fast. US technology companies have the needed innovation horsepower, but US policymakers – including state utility regulators – need to commit to the right smart grid deployment policies.  If not, the US may well cede to China the global smart grid technology market opportunity, estimated at half a trillion dollars over the next 20 years.

As a delegate to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, I saw firsthand that the fight about climate change has little to do with the environment and everything to do with jobs and economies.  Ultimately, job growth is up to the business sector. But government policy and incentives play a dominant role in guiding business strategy, especially in electricity. Because the smart grid is an obvious linchpin of energy-related green job growth, state and federal policymakers need to make the strategic choice to commit now to this sector.

And, while we’re at it, we just might help save the planet. Not a bad investment strategy.

April 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm

How Can Smart Meters Save Europe €120 Billion?

October 12, 2009: In the packed King Harald Board Room at the Naval and Military Club in St. James Square, London, today, Ahmad Faruqui and Dan Harris explained to an elite group of industry experts how rolling out smart meters in Europe can save  €6 billion per year, or  €120 billion ($175 billion) over the meters’ 20-year life.  The means is demand response via smart, dynamic prices.  Dr. Faruqui and Mr. Harris are principal consultants with the Brattle Group and made their presentation in the eMeter-sponsored event that included Chris King’s update on the PowerCentsDC smart grid project.

Faruqui and Harris explained to the group of government officials, academics, electricity retailers, and industry consultants (and Nissan, who sees a strong link between smart prices and electric car charging) how they applied Brattle’s econometric model to Europe.  The model includes 49 results from pilots throughout North America and a few from Australia and Europe.  The consultants adjusted their results for Europe to account for much lower air conditioning usage, pulling from pilot data in places like the State of Washington, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Ottawa, Canada, where air conditioning use is also very limited.  They analyzed the UK wholesale market and other European electricity markets in assessing the value.

The presentation was important for two reasons.  Of course, €120 billion in consumer savings is important, period.  In addition, however, this seminar and others like it are highlighting both the importance of the consumer and the benefits to the consumer of smart meters in Europe.  So far, consumers are seeing relatively little benefit from the nearly 50 million smart meters deployed in, primarily, Italy and Scandinavia.  Brattle advocates that all those consumers have the chance to sign up for voluntary smart prices – TOU, CPP, or Peak Time Rebate – so they can start going after some of that €120 billion!

– Chris King

October 13, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Smart Meter Europe: Spain Jumping Ahead

Two themes marked today’s Smart Meter session in Barcelona.  First, amid tremendous energy and enthusiasm – the show has a record 3,200 attendees – many participants are frustrated by a lack of concrete progress.  The excitement comes from the EU’s directive to roll out smart meters to all consumers by 2022, from the commitments by the UK and others to do it even sooner, and from the active planning and strategy development underway by all of Europe’s major utilities.  The frustration, in contrast, comes from the small number of announced projects.  The crowd was restless, wanting to see less talk and more action.

The second theme, though, is that real progress is happening.  And that was demonstrated when Endesa’s CEO, Jose Luis Marin Lopez-Otero told the audience that Endesa will begin rolling out smart meters in three months, at the rate of two million meters per year.  Endesa is not waiting for all the i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed.  And Endesa is publishing its meter design to make it available to others as well, hoping to create a de facto standard, promote more rapid adoption, and reduce costs.  When I later spoke to Senor Lopez-Otero, he said one of Endesa’s main drivers is to get energy usage information in the hands of Endesa’s consumers, so they can save energy and reduce carbon emissions, and available – with the consumer’s permission – to retailers, so they can offer new pricing and service options.  He emphasized the importance of these benefits in light of his experience coming from the telecommunications sector.

Next year, Endesa and a few others will move forward aggressively, and the remaining utilities will begin implementing the plans on which they’ve worked so hard.  Net net?  2010 promises to be a big year on this side of the Pond.

– Chris King

October 7, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Whatever Happened with ENEL, the World’s Largest Smart Meter Deployment?

In the first half of this decade, ENEL deployed 30 million smart meters to all of its customers in Italy, yet we hear very little about the results.  The reason is that ENEL is still working on the software to get more benefits to consumers.

ENEL’s hardware does all the things we ask of smart meters: collect interval data, allow remote connect/disconnect, even have the ability to communicate with smart appliances in a home area network. So far, however, the main benefit has been in utility operations.   ENEL uses its system to read meters remotely, once a month, and to adjust customer power level subscriptions (in Italy, consumers pay rates that depend on the size of their circuit breaker; ENEL uses its system to adjust remotely the permitted power usage, thus saving on expensive manual field visits).  ENEL’s business case already succeeds.

But consumers do not have smart, dynamic pricing options, do not have access to detailed usage data online or via in-home displays, and do not have demand response choices.  The missing ingredient: software, such as eMeter’s EnergyIP and Energy Engage solutions, that enables these options.  Howard Scott of Cognyst Consulting summed up the issue in his blog post on Energy Central:

The key challenge is the word “smart.” No collection of meters or sensors or communication systems makes a system smart. The smarts come from software systems that collect and process the metering data in conjunction with other utility information. Some of the smarts are expected to come from systems that do not yet exist, but a greater challenge is the need to interface with most other software systems currently being operated by the utility. For almost all electric utilities, these systems are not commonly managed and networked.

With its huge investment in smart hardware, it’s time for ENEL to move forward on smart software!

October 2, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Utilities Profit from the Smart Grid, Too

Policymakers are driving Smart Grid to capture the many consumer benefits, including demand response and conservation programs that save money for consumers.  Importantly, utilities also can and do benefit from the Smart Grid, though the right regulatory policies are needed.  Policymakers need to ensure utilities make more money by selling less of their product.

Consumer bill savings and carbon emission reductions result from lower peak demand and lower electricity consumption, and most public utility commissions are requiring utilities to include these programs in their overall resource plans.  Smart meter-enabled consumer engagement software is a low cost way to achieve energy savings – through information feedback – that also increases customer satisfaction.  In addition, PUCs and the U.S. Congress recognize the incentives problem and are developing ways of allowing utilities to earn the same level of profits with lower sales.  The methods include decoupling, rate of return kickers, and putting energy efficiency investments in rate base, allowing earning of a return.  Twelve states have done this already, and most of the rest are evaluating it.  States receiving Stimulus funds from the Department of Energy even had to promise they would consider these options before receiving the funding.

As for utilities, Smart Grid enables them to reduce their operating costs while maintaining or increasing reliability (things like automated outage response and restoration verification).  Smart grid also requires significant investment, which then goes into rate base and increases utility returns.

Smart Grid works best when both consumers and utilities see clear benefits.

September 8, 2009 at 4:54 pm

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