The Electricity Journal publishes long-awaited ‘America’s Power Plan’

Reg Tucker

Comprehensive report offers policy recommendations for the nation’s energy future.

The October edition of The Electricity Journal — an Elsevier publication and a sister title to Renewable Energy Focus magazine — features a comprehensive clean energy-related report designed to serve as a toolkit to help energy decision-makers determine the policies needed to allow for a successful transformation of America’s electricity system. Dubbed “America’s Power Plan,” the report was developed by Energy Innovation, in partnership with the Energy Foundation.

America’s Power Plan was initially “teased” back in September during the RETECH 2013 Conference and was officially unveiled a week later at the National Association of State Energy Officials’ annual meeting in Denver. Building upon previous studies, such as NREL’s Renewable Electricity Futures study — which demonstrate the technical feasibility of a low-carbon electric grid — America’s Power Plan is the nation’s first comprehensive effort to analyze the impending challenges to the electric power system and offer policy and market solutions.
“In the October 2013 issue of The Electricity Journal, we step back a bit to offer what we hope you’ll regard as a comprehensive view of where things need to go on many of the most compelling issues of the day: clean energy incentives, the structure of wholesale markets, utility business models, and a panoply of other hot-button issues,” said Rich Cohen, editor-in-chief, The Electricity Journal. ““We have been able to assemble this special issue by partnering with Energy Innovation: Policy and Technology LLC, the energy and environmental policy firm. Energy Innovation worked with the Energy Foundation, a partnership of philanthropic investors promoting clean energy technology, to fund and orchestrate the research behind these essays.

Over the past year, more than 150 energy experts have been involved in producing papers and other materials for America’s Power Plan, which comprises eight individual reports: an overview paper along with seven other papers that respectively discuss a unique topic within the power sector. Hal Harvey, CEO of Energy Innovation, and Sonia Aggarwal, director of strategy, wrote the overview paper, which summarizes trends in the electricity system, lists overarching goals and ways of accomplishing them, and offers best practices for competitive markets and performance-based regulation.
An overarching theme of America’s Power Plan is the belief that the electric power sector is a crucial element of the American economy. To that end, in order to maintain and improve access to reliable, cost-effective, and clean electricity, the grid must evolve.
“Regulators, policy makers, and utilities will need to rewrite their playbooks if we are going to build a more reliable, more sustainable, more affordable power system that takes full advantage of clean technologies,” Energy Innovation’s Harvey states. As the power system moves into a new era of variable supply, controllable demand, and cheap renewable energy sources, America must develop an innovative energy paradigm. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to creating a clean, reliable electric grid, America’s Power Plan’s treatment of the key issues and its variety of recommended strategies enables local and state decision-makers to implement solutions that are tailored to their specific realities, the authors said.
The eight papers that make up America’s Power Plan are as follows:
Rethinking Policy to Deliver a Clean Energy Future
Sonia Aggarwal, Hal Harvey

Aligning Power Markets to Deliver Value
Michael Hogan

New Utility Business Models: Utility and Regulatory Models for the Modern Era
Ronald L. Lehr

Finance Policy: Removing Investment Barriers and Management Risk
Todd Foley, Uday Varadarajan, Richard Caperton

Distributed Energy Resources: Policy Implications of Decentralization
James Newcomb, Virginia Lacy, Lena Hansen, Mathias Bell

Distributed Generation Policy: Encouraging Generation on Both Sides of the Meter
Joseph Wiedman, Tom Beach

Transmission Policy: Planning for and Investing in Wires
John W. Jimison, Bill White

Siting: Finding a Home for Renewable Energy and Transmission
Carl Zichella, Johnathan Hladik

All eight papers are available for download from The Electricity Journal’s link on ScienceDirect.com. A dedicated interactive website also features videos, blog posts, and opinion pieces from the contributing authors to America's Power Plan.

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11 November 2013
"A clear policy signal is required to drive efficiency." America's Power Plan warranted a paper specifically dealing with the importance of energy efficiency.

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