Our Energy Future

Do you want a say in the shape our industry will take? Then get involved!
By Doug Houseman

Time is not our friend. Coal generation will go away, with much of it gone by 2020 and little surviving beyond 2030. Once most of the coal is gone, we will see natural gas generation come under pressure to close down. Nuclear generation is not economically feasible today, and regulatory changes would be needed to make it viable. Expect to see wild rivers organizations push to remove hydroelectric facilities.

Expect wildlife groups to try to limit or ban wind turbines from areas that have higher levels of bird and bat strikes. Local communities are enacting zoning ordinances that limit placement of both wind and solar installations that are visible outside the owner’s property. Society is fragmenting on what it wants in the way of generation: BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone). In short, generating any power at all in the emerging regulatory environment may be difficult. It will not get as bad as I opined, but some days it will feel that way.

FERC 1000 already influences how transmission is planned and funded. New FERC regulations will impact our transmission planning and capitalization; ultimately, it will determine how the industry sites and uses transmission to connect to new renewable generation. These rules impact who pays, which will result in pushback from state commissions. Expect FERC rulings to be challenged so the courts may have final say. Distribution is heavily in flux as Solar City, the Rocky Mountain Institute and others propose to take distribution grid operations away from the utilities and put it into the hands of independent distribution system operators.