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TweetThe effort and resources that US utilities devote to improving energy efficiency vary widely, according to a new report.
The report, entitled Benchmarking Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Portfolios in the US, shows that while some utilities are leading the way in the field, others still show great room for improvement. The report was based on data provided by utilities to the Energy Information Administration. Ceres said that of the 50 utilities analyzed in the report, the energy savings the companies were able to achieve range from a low of 0.1 percent of retail sales to nearly two percent at the top of the pile. According to the survey, there is a positive correlation between the power of state energy efficiency policy and the level of investment and savings of individual utilities. The report said many of the utilities analyzed are retiring aging power plants and converting to cleaner energy sources. In Energy 3.0, Rudy Provoost, CEO of Rexel, offers a reading of the energy world of tomorrow, between digital convergence, decentralization of the production and the energy transition.
This statistic represents the world's largest electric utility companies as of April 6, 2015, based on market value.
Utilities sell electricity through a regulated market by operating generation, transmission and distribution facilities. Two of France’s electric utilities, EDF and GDF Suez, were considered the world’s largest utilities based on 2015 market values. Tracking which utility companies throughout the US offer discounted rates (EV tariffs, reduced off-peak fees, etc) for owners of electric vehicles is darn near impossible. So far, Northeast Group says that only 6% of the utility companies it tracked offered any sort of discount for owners of plug ins.
The Group concludes that the utility-level incentives needed to promote the use of electric vehicles are lacking in the US.
We now ask of you, does your local utility offer any sort of discounts to owners of plug-in vehicles?
Gas stations don’t provide special rates for hybrids or something, nor should they in my opinion. I have a TOU rate, with a bonus of having a special 10P-6A rate for the entire meter (not just charging) because I have a plug-in car. HECO has a residential TOU rate as well, but we don’t have enough high-wattage appliances whose use we could shift to off-peak hours to actually reduce our electric bill due to the higher rate during peak hours compared to the regular residential rate. So for us, adding the EV charging circuit downstream of our apartment’s electric meter might be the least expensive alternative. The trouble is that power plants using nuclear fuel or brown coal are designed to run full blast and cannot easily reduce production, whereas the extra energy from solar and wind power is free.
These events were a microcosm of the changes affecting all places where renewable sources of energy are becoming more important—Europe as a whole and Germany in particular.
The rot has gone furthest in Germany, where electricity from renewable sources has grown fastest. So the gas and nuclear bits of the utilities’ business were heading for trouble even before the renewables bonanza, making the growth of solar and wind all the more disruptive. Deregulation swept away this tidy, ordered system, letting power plants produce according to the marginal cost of electricity. Now, when demand fluctuates, it may not be enough just to lower the output of gas-fired generators. Under the old system, electricity prices spiked during peak hours (the middle of the day and early evening), falling at night as demand ebbed. Moreover, in the past few years utilities have been hedging, selling two-thirds of their power one to three years ahead (ie, they are receiving 2010 prices for energy delivered today). Utilities are not powerless in the face of these problems, and they are not all affected equally. Utilities may eventually get more serious about renewable energy, but at the moment change is slow.
Most important, the decline in utilities’ fortunes raises disturbing questions about the future of Europe’s electricity system. So far, it is true, they have managed to provide backup capacity and the grid has not failed, even in solar- and wind-mad Germany. Over the past 30 years European governments have been trying to deregulate energy markets, privatising state-owned companies and splitting electricity generation from transmission and distribution. The report, published by Ceres, a nonprofit organization focusing on sustainability challenges, and energy and environmental advisors M.J. The top ten ranking utilities managed savings of one percent of their annual electricity sales.
Ceres said this shows that state policies that remove unintended disincentives are a big driver of utility spending on energy efficiency. Some of the worst performers included Metropolitan Edison and Ohio Edison (both subsidiaries of First Energy), Georgia Power, Alabama Power and Mississippi Power(Southern Company subsidiaries) and Duke subsidiary Duke Energy Indiana.
In most countries, utilities provide energy, and are essential for many industrial and commercial enterprises, as well as households and other facilities such as recreational facilities.
Power's advisory services leverage our proprietary benchmarks, analytics, models and our vast array of data. DIYTrade accepts no responsibility whatsoever in respect of such content.To report fraudulent or illegal content, please click here. It shouldn’t matter what those electrons are used for, only how much, and possibly when. They give base power away for free but you have to pay like hell if you want 6 or 7 times as much. So the burden of adjustment fell on gas-fired and hard-coal power plants, whose output plummeted to only about 10% of capacity.
At their peak in 2008, the top 20 energy utilities were worth roughly €1 trillion ($1.3 trillion).
The country’s biggest utility, E.ON, has seen its share price fall by three-quarters from the peak and its income from conventional power generation (fossil fuels and nuclear) fall by more than a third since 2010.

During the 2000s, European utilities overinvested in generating capacity from fossil fuels, boosting it by 16% in Europe as a whole and by more in some countries (up 91% in Spain, for example).
This displaced to Europe coal that had previously been burned in America, pushing European coal prices down relative to gas prices. Renewables capacity (which is much higher than output) is almost half of electricity-generating capacity in Germany and roughly one-third in Spain and Italy. Electricity prices have fallen from over €80 per MWh at peak hours in Germany in 2008 to just €38 per MWh now (see chart 2). You guaranteed a constant supply of power by building plants that ran on coal, nuclear energy (if you wanted it) or hydropower (if you had it). The combination of European demand and Chinese investment has slashed the cost of solar panels by about two-thirds since 2006 (see chart 3).
The big six British utilities, for example, have been sheltered by their long-term electricity-price agreement with the regulator, though their profit margins remain thin.
Drax, which used to be Britain’s largest coal-fired power station, is being converted to run on wood pellets. Instead, utilities are responding to their woes by shifting out of power generation and into “downstream” activities, such as trading and offering customers advice on energy use.
Once they were steady, reliable and inflation-resistant, the US Treasuries of the equity markets. They will be the electricity generators of last resort, ensuring the lights stay on when wind and solar generators run out of puff.
In fact, the German grid is more reliable than most (countries run reliability indices: Germany has one of the highest scores in Europe). To make up for lack of investment by utilities, governments will have to persuade others to step in, such as pension funds or sovereign-wealth funds.
Renewable energy has grabbed a growing share of the market, pushed wholesale prices down and succeeded in its goal of driving down the price of new technologies. In light of likely increased demand for electricity, the aging grid infrastructure in many markets has been subject to recent concerns. Its primary focus is nuclear energy, while GDF Suez focuses mostly on natural gas and renewables. Residential customer satisfaction with electric utility companies averages 625 (on a 1,000-point scale), a slight decrease from 628 in 2011. We bring transparency to how companies perform relative to their competitors on key drivers of performance. PIN gathers millions of retail transactions covering 250 data points from more than 12,000 franchise dealerships across North America with updates daily.
We have 14 offices in North and South America, Europe, and Asia with 750+ analysts, statisticians, consultants, and industry experts. They make you pay for all the fossil burners that receive their 10 KVA for free and even add some thousand dollars more. That is, generating companies were having to pay the managers of the grid to take their electricity. At the second-largest utility, RWE, recurrent net income has also fallen by a third since 2010.
The market for electricity did not grow by nearly that amount, even in good times; then the financial crisis hit demand. This panicked the government of Angela Merkel into ordering the immediate closure of eight of Germany’s nuclear-power plants and a phase-out of the other nine by 2022.
At the same time, carbon prices crashed because there were too many permits to emit carbon in Europe’s emissions-trading system and the recession cut demand for them. You ran these full blast around the clock—for technical reasons, coal and nuclear plants cannot easily be shut down anyway.
In Germany, the cost of generating a megawatt hour of electricity with solar panels has fallen to €150, above wholesale prices but below the fixed price that renewables receive and below residential prices.
In the past few months Vattenfall, Sweden’s biggest utility, has written off 6% of its assets and three German firms, E.ON, RWE and EnBW, have announced capacity cuts of over 15GW. As Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an American think-tank, points out, Germany has built a low-carbon energy business to the point where new solar power needs few subsidies; where wholesale energy prices are falling and threats to the reliability of the grid have not materialised. All this will be held together by “smart grids”, which tell consumers how much power they are using, shut off appliances when not needed and manage demand more efficiently.
Greens therefore dismiss worries that renewables will undermine grid reliability, pointing out that, as wind and solar plants spread over the continent, there will be enough wind or sun somewhere to run some of them, at least during the day.
But these entities have always invested in energy indirectly, by holding stakes in utilities, not directly. But the subsidy cost also has been large, the environmental gains non-existent so far and the damage done to today’s utilities much greater than expected. This issue is forcing utilities to install new infrastructure and develop new technologies to provide customers with more reliable and improved access to energy. Nine of the top 20 utilities are based in the United States, with Duke Energy being the largest U.S. Satisfaction with power quality and reliability, the most important factor in driving satisfaction, has declined by 13 points from 2011.
It is helping push wholesale electricity prices down, and could one day lead to big reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. Since September 2008, utilities have been the worst-performing sector in the Morgan Stanley index of global share prices. According to the International Energy Agency, total energy demand in Europe will decline by 2% between 2010 and 2015. The abruptness of the change added to the utilities’ woes, though many of the plants were scheduled for closure anyway.
This has reduced the penalties for burning coal, kept profit margins at coal-fired power plants healthy and slashed them for gas-fired plants. Michael Liebreich, BNEF’s chief executive, compares them to telephone companies in the 1990s, or newspapers facing social media now: “It is an existential threat,” he says.

Thanks to grid priority, solar grabs a big chunk of that peak demand and has competed away the price spike.
This means solar generation may rise even if Germany’s new government cuts subsidies to renewables. But utilities no longer play this role, as evinced not just by collapsing share prices but by dividend policies.
And for a reason: they dislike the political risks of owning projects in which governments play a role, either through planning or price-setting. Europe in general and Germany in particular see themselves as pioneers of low-carbon energy.
As the integration of renewable energy sources and investments in smart grid technologies are projected to raise a challenge, the basic utility’s business model is expected to undergo a major change. Price satisfaction has increased by 10 points, due to slightly lower monthly bill amounts and fewer customers saying that their financial condition is worse than last year.
Gerard Mestrallet, chief executive of GDF Suez, the world’s largest electricity producer, says 30GW of gas-fired capacity has been mothballed in Europe since the peak, including brand-new plants.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), a data-provider, reckons that 30-40% of RWE’s conventional power stations are losing money.
Then, to supply extra electricity at peak times (like lunchtime or early evening) you had plants that could more easily be powered up and down, such as gas-fired ones. But it is also logical: since the marginal cost of wind and solar power is zero, grids would take their power first anyway. In Germany in 2008, according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, peak-hour prices were €14 per MWh above baseload prices.
The plant sits in the middle of a radiating web of wires down which the firm distributes power.
It says its earnings from electricity generation will fall by 80% in 2012-20, offset by higher earnings from energy services and renewables.
And this is happening at a time when renewable energy supplies, on average, 22% of Germany’s electricity demand.
In some countries there are also laws against owning assets both upstream (generators) and down (distribution). If they are genuinely to be so, they will need to design a much better electricity system that rewards low-carbon energy without reducing reliability and imposing undue and unnecessary costs. Duke Energy is located in North Carolina and provides energy to over seven million customers.
Between 2pm and 3pm, solar and wind generators produced 28.9 gigawatts (GW) of power, more than half the total.
The increase in coal-burning pushed German carbon emissions up in 2012-13, the opposite of what was supposed to happen. For pension funds and other investors, they represent lost capital and lower future earnings. No one really knows what will happen when renewables reach 35% of the market, as government policy requires in 2020, let alone if they reach the national target of 80% in 2050. Of that, €1.6 billion will go on maintaining existing plants, leaving just €1 billion for development spending—half of present levels. But unlike the baseload providers already in place (nuclear and coal), solar and wind power are intermittent, surging with the weather. So not only have average electricity prices fallen by half since 2008, but the peak premium has also fallen by almost four-fifths. Photovoltaic panels are cheap, tiny (a medium-sized array may have a capacity of just 10MW) and arranged in a net, not as a hub with spokes.
Almost everyone acknowledges that as the share of renewable energy rises, regulation of the grid will have to change. At the peak, total generation was over 51GW; so prices went negative to encourage cutbacks and protect the grid from overloading.
They worry that the growth of solar and wind power is destabilising the grid, and may lead to blackouts or brownouts. The losses—many of which predate the boom in renewable energy—have come on top of the huge sums Europeans have also spent on climate-change policies. And they point out that you cannot run a normal business, in which customers pay for services according to how much they consume, if prices go negative.
Subsidies for renewable energy are running at €16 billion a year in Germany (and rising); the cumulative cost is around €60 billion.
Notifying them in a proactive manner ensures that they know the latest information and are kept apprised of their unique situation."Electronic Communication Yields Higher SatisfactionElectric utility customer satisfaction averages 714 when utilities communicate with customers via electronic methods, 89 points above industry average. In short, they argue, the growth of renewable energy is undermining established utilities and replacing them with something less reliable and much more expensive.
Delmarva Power and Penn Power follow in a tie, respectively.Midwest RegionMidAmerican Energy ranks highest among large utility companies in the Midwest region for a fifth consecutive year.
Alliant Energy and We Energies rank second and third, respectively.Omaha Public Power District ranks highest among mid utility companies in the Midwest region for a fifth consecutive year. Following Omaha Public Power District in the segment rankings are Kentucky Utilities and Wisconsin Public Service, respectively.South RegionCPS Energy ranks highest among large utility companies in the South region.
NOVEC ranks highest among mid utility companies in the South region, followed by Jackson EMC and Sawnee EMC, respectively.
West RegionSalt River Project (SRP) ranks highest among large utility companies in the West region for a fifth consecutive year and receives an award in the study for an 11th consecutive year. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries.

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