Driving Innovation for a Cleaner Future: The Power of Competitive Electricity Markets


John E. Shelk,
CEO & President,
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 22, 2007 – A spring forum co-hosted by EPSA and the COMPETE Coalition, entitled “Driving Innovation for a Cleaner Future: The Power of Competitive Electricity Markets” looked at two major issues – Consumers, Competition and Environmental Benefits and Technology and Competitive Markets: Meeting our Environmental Commitment. EPSA (the Electric Power Supply Association) is the national trade association representing competitive power suppliers, including generators and marketers, who account for nearly 40 per cent of the installed generating capacity in the United States. The COMPETE Coalition is a coalition of electricity stakeholders representing all aspects of electricity generation, transmission, distribution and consumption who support the continued evolution of competitive electricity markets for the benefit of consumers.

In his opening remarks, EPSA president and CEO John E. Shelk said that the matters being discussed were timely topics. “The heat of summer is almost upon us, which means that demand for electricity will increase along with thermometer readings. The good news is that experts are once again generally predicting that the nation’s electricity systems will be up to the task of meeting that demand. However, those who are charged with monitoring electric reliability – and drawing our attention to issues that impact it – emphasize that there is little breathing room if a prolonged heat wave hits multiple regions at the same time as occurred last summer.

“Looking to the future, competitive suppliers are in the forefront of advancing new projects across a wide range of fuels and exciting new technologies. EPSA members are showing true leadership, and backing it up with billions of dollars in planned investments, in the areas of wind, geothermal and other renewables, the next generation of nuclear power plants, clean coal technologies, and much more that you will hear about later this morning. At the same time, we are working on demand response measures and how best to fashion organized markets to promote those measures.”

The keynote speaker at the forum was the Honorable Philip D. Moeller, Commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). “New choices, products, and services are on the horizon. Innovation occurs faster in competitive environments, because consumers will demand it,” he said. "Continuing to develop competitive electricity markets will encourage investment in electricity infrastructure – transmission, power plants and renewable sources – to improve delivery and reliability. We can’t put vertically integrated systems back in place. Competitive markets will continue to evolve, there’s no turning the clock back."

Panelists from industry, consumers and environmental organizations discussed their experiences dealing with structured electricity markets and answered questions posed by moderators and the audience. The full forum is available via webcast.

Panelists also discussed the issue of competitive electric markets and prices.

"It’s not just about price, it’s about stability, reliability and efficiency," said Jeffrey R. Gaudiosi, Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs at the Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut. "Thanks to deregulation legislation in Connecticut we were able to develop efficiency programs for customers to run their homes and businesses more efficiently. We work with the efficiency funds stemming from deregulation so that members are only using the electricity that they need."

The second panel discussion focused on the role technology plays in competitive markets and meeting the industry’s environmental commitments. Demand response is a key technology being used in the industry to improve energy efficiency and control energy use. Panelists said that the use of these systems and other technology was important – even more so in competitive markets.

"New technology exists, but for it to work markets need to be better understood," said John Ragan, President of NRG Energy’s Northeast Region. “When you talk about large scale investment in competitive markets, we need the states to put a policy in place and let it work. It’s difficult to make large investments with regulatory uncertainty. Uncertainty drives up the cost of capital investment."