F&ES 816b / 2013-2014

Electric Utilities: an Industry in Transition

Credits: 3

Spring 2014: Tu, 4:00-6:50, Sage 24
Spring OCI Listing    

The US electric utility industry is a $370 billion business with capital expenditures on the order of $100 billion per year to ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­replace aging infrastructure, implement new technologies, and meet new regulatory requirements.  A reliable electricity infrastructure is essential for the US economy and the health and safety of its citizens.  The electric industry also has a significant impact on the environment.  In the US, electric power generation is responsible for about 40 percent of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas.  Technological innovations, together with improving economics, provide a transformational opportunity to adopt smart grid technology that will facilitate the implementation of demand-side resources and distributed energy technologies that will both lower emissions and improve service to customers.  Such significant changes could, however, disrupt existing utility business models and therefore may not be fully supported by incumbent utilities.  This course will focus on the issues, challenges, risks, and trade-offs associated with moving the US utility industry toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. Throughout the course we will explore how economic factors and regulatory policies influence outcomes and opportunities to align customer, environmental, and utility shareholder interests to craft win-win-win solutions.
The course will begin with a thorough review of the regulatory framework that utilities operate under today to develop a comprehensive understanding of their business models.  We will also focus on rate design – how utilities allocate costs to customer classes and how they design rates to recover their revenue requirement.   We will then focus on integrated resource planning, the process of evaluating both supply and demand side resources to develop an overall plan to serve customers effectively and meet other societal objectives.  We will then turn to transmission issues and electric industry restructuring in the US where 17 states and the District of Columbia allow competition in energy supply; we will explore the pros and cons of this and its impact on utility incentives and behavior.   We will then focus on clean energy technologies – energy efficiency, renewables, and other distributed resources 
Limited to 25
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