Exposé Reveals Why Electric Grids, Utilities are Not Ready for Clean Power Plans Or A Low-Carbon Future; Calls For Urgently Needed State Regulatory Reforms

Book by industry expert explores the chasm between what electric utilities are incented to do versus what customers, communities, and society want and need

Renewable energy. Smart grids. Climate change. Clean Power Plans. Those who care about such topics will want to pick up the comprehensive exposé by well-known utility industry insider and consultant Paul Alvarez.

In Smart Grid Hype & Reality: A Systems Approach to Maximizing Customer Return on Utility Investment, Alvarez details his concern over what he calls the "growing disconnect" between what electric utilities are incented to do versus what customers and communities will want and need in the future along with the dismaying results - less renewable energy and energy efficiency, a greater environmental impact, and needlessly higher electric bills.

Distribution grids and utilities, Alvarez notes, are critical to enabling a reliable and sustainable electric future of self-generation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, but it can take a decade of investment in the "right" capabilities to prepare for these new demands. Alvarez is concerned that grid investments and operations are not being optimized on behalf of customers, communities, or the environment, and won't be without significant reform of utility regulations such as those being implemented in the United Kingdom and the state of New York.

He comments, "New York has recognized that the time for utility regulatory reform is already past due, and California and Hawaii are not far behind. With the EPA's recent release of Clean Power Plan goals, more states will recognize the role distribution grids and utilities can potentially play in energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as deficiencies in the current regulatory framework that inhibit cost-effective goal achievement."

Smart Grid Hype & Reality offers a comprehensive industry and technology overview, covers the costs and risks of smart grid investments, and highlights critical success factors in utility operations, customer engagement, and regulatory and governance models. All told, it details how current regulatory and governance models are insufficient to ensure that investments and capabilities are being optimized, leaving customer benefits on the table today while restricting progress toward a more sustainable electric energy future.

"This is the most thorough discussion of smart grid currently available. In particular, the book presents the industry and regulatory context in which smart grid has emerged to help the reader really understand its many ‘faces' and evolving role in the future of electric distribution utilities." ~ Calvin Timmerman, assistant executive director of the Maryland Public Service Commission

"It's a must-read for utility stakeholders, including consumer advocates." ~ Stacia Harper, director of government relations, Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy

AUTHOR: Paul Alvarez leads the Wired Group, a consultancy helping clients unleash the latent value in distribution utility businesses. His perspectives have been formed by fifteen years in the industry as both utility insider and consultant to industry regulators, associations, stakeholders, and suppliers, with a focus on demand-side management and renewable energy program development, measurement and verification, performance evaluation, and marketing. In the last five years, Paul has trained his utility expertise on the smart grid. He has led comprehensive, unbiased evaluations of large smart grid deployments, including in Boulder, Colorado for Xcel Energy and in the Cincinnati region (Duke Energy) for the Ohio Public Utilities Commission. These projects, thought to be the only unbiased, comprehensive evaluations of full, large-scale smart grid deployments, are in the public domain and available for download at www.wiredgroup.net. Paul is an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado's Global Energy Management Program and Michigan State University's Institute for Public Utilities. He holds an undergraduate degree in finance from Indiana University and a master's degree in management from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.

Author Availability for Interviews

Paul Alvarez, president of the Wired Group and author of Smart Grid Hype & Reality, is available to answer questions about the smart grid and the electric utility business in general. Topics can include:

* What is the smart grid?
* How can the smart grid help states comply with the EPA's new Clean Power Plan rules?
* How should communities be involved in planning for grid modernization? What capabilities will they want and need in the future?
* Why are electric utility companies investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the smart grid?
* How much does the average customer pay to upgrade the electric grid?
* What are the potential economic benefits? Are they being realized? If not, why not?
* Are there environmental benefits to the smart grid? Are they being realized?
* How do traditional ratemaking practices penalize utilities for energy conservation?
* Regulators in New York State are now proposing radical changes to the electric ratemaking process. Why?

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