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Richard Brooks's picture
Co-Founder and Lead Software Engineer Reliable Energy Analytics LLC

Inventor of patent pending technology: METHODS FOR VERIFICATION OF SOFTWARE OBJECT AUTHENTICITY AND INTEGRITY and the Software Assurance Guardian™ (SAG ™) Point Man™ (SAG-PM™) software and...

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Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is providing much needed leadership to help companies and policy makers navigate the energy transition. Hawaii in particular, in cooperation with RMI, has "cracked the code" on how to engage all stakeholders in reaching a consensus solution to achieving reliable energy supply in a decentralized energy supply chain with a changing fuel mix. Driven by customer demand, climate change and reliability needs, utilities and others are finding that rapid changes in today's power sector require something beyond traditional regulation. David Littell, Principal, Regulatory Assistance Project, a highly regarded expert in energy regulatory policies across New England provides us with a clear understanding of why innovtive thinking is needed now: "Existing regulatory processes were designed for the different purposes of the 20th century system and won't work in the rapidly transforming 21st century."

I've relied on the excellent, objective analysis of many RMI papers in the past, and I'm confident that RMI is the most proficient leader to rely on during this phase transition. Congratulations RMI and great work on the REBA marketplace - a true innovation for the 21st century.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Oct 4, 2019

"David Littell, Principal, Regulatory Assistance Project, a highly regarded expert in energy regulatory policies across New England provides us with a clear understanding of why innovtive thinking is needed now: "Existing regulatory processes were designed for the different purposes of the 20th century system and won't work in the rapidly transforming 21st century."

Where are you getting your David Littell quote from, Richard? In 2018, Littell correctly identified the principal reason nuclear plants are being replaced with gas - self-dealing utilities are forcing ratepayers to pay for gas at prices they set themselves:

"The separation of local gas distribution companies (LDCs) from their interstate pipeline-owning affiliates—and indeed from electric generation-owning affiliates and gas pipeline and distribution companies—has not been a focal point of regulation."

When Utility Gas Affiliates Play by Monopoly Rules, Consumers Are Likely to Lose

Littell is apparently unaware self-dealing was a focal point of regulation for seventy years - a problem already solved. Here, he does nothing other than advocate a return to pre-2005 regulation, when electric generation-owning affiliates and gas pipeline and distribution companies were forbidden from doing business which each other.

"But the question of these 'codes of conduct' is increasingly important, and given the gaps in state-level rulemaking, may be an area where federal regulators need to step in."

Or maybe federal regulators should never have been kicked out in 2005. That was when energy holding companies, with the blessing of a renewables lobby bought off with subsidies tacked on to EPACT2005, eliminated federal oversight by the SEC. For seventy years the pesky Securities and Exchange Commission had the resources and the teeth to prevent self-dealing - but now holding companies were free to run up customers' bills to their hearts' content. And neither FERC, nor state utility commissions under the thumb of local gas companies, could do a thing about it.

Before 2005 I had reliable electricity at low prices. Now, with service becoming less reliable and more expensive, this "energy transition" may end up looking more like a regulation revival. Or will middlemen from Big Gas and Big Renewables continue to be rewarded an expanding slice of the electricity pie for making access to electricity worse?

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 4, 2019

Here's a fuller version of the quote you're asking about:

"Existing regulatory processes were designed for the different purposes of the 20th century system and won't work in the rapidly transforming 21st century," Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) Principal David Littell, a former commissioner with the Maine Public Utilities Commission, told Utility Dive.

"Utilities used to be the initiators of new ratepayer costs and were protected by formal and intimidating legalistic regulatory processes that made it hard for the public to engage," he added. Companies who sell DER, their customers and DER advocates "are beginning to participate and it is opening up the old processes."

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Oct 5, 2019

Thank you, Matt.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Oct 7, 2019

"Companies who sell DER, their customers and DER advocates "are beginning to participate and it is opening up the old processes.'"

It used to be fun watching each generation invent their own imaginary "energy transition" then forget about it. Now, there's too much at stake.

Here Utility Dive intentionally - and nonsensically - misapplies Littell's comments to DER, the latest incarnation. Their sales reps, "Community Choice Aggregators." are the same middlemen in the same old processes. As always, they make those processes less transparent, more expensive, and most importantly: there's no evidence they lower emissions.

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