News Article | April 17, 2017
How does the electric utility fit in to a rapidly-evolving energy system? That’s what the Illinois Commerce Commission is trying to determine with its new effort, “NextGrid.” Together, we’re rethinking the roles of the utility, the customer, and energy solution providers in a 21st century electric grid.
News Article | April 26, 2017
For the first 100 years of their existence, utility managers and investors slept well at night knowing three truths would ensure consistent profit growth, so long as they provided safe, reliable and affordable service: But in just the last decade, utilities have seen each of these truths erode. The old model of coupling profits to increased infrastructure investment and greater sales is cracking as competitive technologies like rooftop solar, local storage and smart buildings displace increasing parts of the utility service, taking some of the revenues that go with it. And, an explosion of innovations have increased energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions, but utilities have been slow to adopt them. Now utilities are clamoring for regulatory change. In response, multiple states are investigating a new business model increasing the utility’s mandate to modernize the grid, decarbonize generation and give customers more options to manage their bills. This “utility of the future” is no longer an experiment sequestered in leader states like New York, California and Hawaii, where strong environmental policy is forcing regulators and utilities to respond. Utility of the future discussions have gone mainstream , and three Midwest states—Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota—are in various stages of building frameworks to help utilities establish reliable, resilient, affordable and clean grid systems for the 21st century. This past March, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) initiated NextGrid, an 18-month, consumer-focused collaborative process to “transform Illinois’ energy landscape and economy.” Specifically, Next Grid aims to uncover opportunities to value and optimize distributed energy resources (DERs) like rooftop solar panels or energy efficiency, and facilitate grid decarbonization. As the power sector and technology industries converge toward DER integration, NextGrid will highlight opportunities to enable a more dynamic relationship between customers and their utilities. Diverse voices like ComEd, Environmental Defense Fund and Citizen’s Utility Board have praised NextGrid’s efforts, and the latter two are collaborating on a parallel effort building a new regulatory framework that increases customer and community choice among energy suppliers, drives economic development and updates utility business models. Illinois’ recent history of forward-looking energy legislation has helped pave the way for progress under NextGrid. In 2011, the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act required rapid investment in smart meters and other “smart grid” equipment that improves the grid’s efficiency, customer engagement and resilience while modernizing utility regulation itself. And the Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016 created policy support for zero-carbon nuclear generation while expanding energy efficiency programs, net-metering and renewables projects. These bills laid the groundwork for NextGrid to supplant Illinois’ current net energy metering (NEM) program with a new value-of-DER rebate that more precisely values customers who provide electricity or other services (i.e. energy efficiency, storage, demand response) to the grid.
News Article | May 8, 2017
Fairfax considers bid to buy Domain for $1.8 billion US Fairfax Media (ASX: FXJ), parent company of real estate site Domain, confirmed that the company had received an unsolicited offer over the weekend from a consortium, led by private equity firm TPG Capital, to buy Domain and three of the company’s newspapers. Greg Hywood, CEO of Fairfax Media, convened a board meeting at the weekend to consider the offer, estimated to be worth $2.5 billion AUD ($1.8 billion U.S.), to buy Domain and its Metro Media division, consisting of Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, and The Australian Financial Review. In a statement, Fairfax said the consortium, made up of U.S.-based TPG Capital and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, had made a cash offer of 95 cents AUD per share. The proposal came days after Fairfax announced plans to save $30 million AUD by axing 125 jobs from its Metro Media division, prompting week-long strikes by the majority of the company’s journalists. Fairfax said the board was considering the proposal, but added: “There is no certainty that the Indicative Proposal is capable of being implemented, given the complexity involved in splitting the businesses. “Regardless of any potential proposal, the Fairfax board believes Fairfax has a very attractive future, and that the company is well-positioned to continue to deliver shareholder value.” It’s understood the TPG-led consortium has an interest in growing the Metro Media division mastheads, which it sees as key to extending Domain’s reach, rather than cut them. Hywood gave a trading update on May 4 (see image). Metro Media revenue had declined 11 percent since Christmas, he said at the Macquarie Australia Conference last week, while the group’s overall revenue was down 6 percent in the first 17 weeks of FY2017 from the same period last year. Domain was the only division to increase revenue, with its digital business up 18 percent and overall revenue (including its print assets) up 10 percent in the 17-week period of FY2017 from the same period last year. According to The Australian Financial Review, Deutsche Bank analyst Entcho Raykovski has an implied value on Domain of $2.2 billion AUD ($1.6 billion U.S.), and $17.6 million AUD ($13 million U.S.) for Metro Media. TPG views the Fairfax Metro Media division as a valuable asset for Domain, which has been able to leverage the audience and reach of the metro mastheads, particularly in Sydney, where Domain’s online traffic is neck and neck with rival Realestate.com.au. Raykovski estimates Domain’s print revenue will be around $91 million AUD ($67.3 million U.S.) this financial year, falling to $82 million AUD ($60.5 million U.S.) next year. Digital revenue are expected to grow from $229.5 million AUD ($170 million U.S.) this year to $268.6 million ($199 U.S. million) in FY2017/18. In March, TPG had first shown an interest in acquiring a controlling stake in Domain, but was deterred by a spike in the Fairfax Media’s share price. Left out of the deal, should it go ahead, is Fairfax’s community newspaper titles, New Zealand Publishing (which had its merger with fellow publishing group NZME blocked by the New Zealand Commerce Commission last week), its video-on-demand service Stan, and its stake in Macquarie Media radio. The separation of Domain and Fairfax Media (announced in February) will go ahead as planned, and is expected to be finalized by the end of the calendar year, the company said.
News Article | May 4, 2017
CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ComEd and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC) announced today a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will support the study and development of new energy efficiency programs, smart streetlights, and community and residential solar and other infrastructure projects. The MOU provides for a one-of-a-kind collaboration between ComEd and the MMC to develop a pilot for a national model on how utilities and municipalities can work together to create greener, more resilient and sustainable communities. The announcement follows a green light from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) last month that established “smart” as the new standard for all streetlights that ComEd owns in northern Illinois. The new standard is expected to accelerate the deployment of smart LED street lighting service that will leverage the wireless communications network used by ComEd’s new smart grid platform that allows for two-way communication between the utility and its customers. “ComEd and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus are working to enhance the livability and sustainability of the communities we serve,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO, ComEd. “We’re nearing the completion of the smart grid modernization program which is producing record reliability for our customers, and we’re eager to begin leveraging the strength of this modern digital platform. We will work together to inform cities and towns about the benefits of smart streetlights, solar power, and other technologies. We will also help municipalities that own their own streetlights to identify ways to fund the conversion to smart LED lights. We hope the lessons learned from this collaboration can be replicated across the entire ComEd service territory, Illinois and the nation.” This new initiative will also get a boost from the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), which was enacted by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Rauner last year. It goes into effect in June and will increase funding for energy efficiency from $250 million to $400 million annually by 2030. These funds create savings opportunities for all customer classes, including municipalities, supporting the development of new energy efficiency programs as well as the conversion of current municipal lighting systems to smart LED streetlights. For the past six years, MMC has served as administrator of energy efficiency programs for the public sector through a program formally managed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). The ICC recently granted a petition proposed by ComEd and the DCEO that will allow ComEd to assume responsibility for the program. “We’ve had considerable success working with Illinois utilities to create energy savings for our member communities, and we expect to expand on this record by working more directly with them,” said Robert J. Nunamaker, Executive Board Chairman of MMC. “Mayors throughout the region are very well aware of the importance of energy infrastructure. We understand what ComEd has done through the development of the smart grid program and we want to work with them to build on this smart foundation for the benefit of our entire region.” Preliminary discussions between ComEd and the MMC have been focused on development of projects to convert existing street lights to more efficient LEDs, which consume as little as one-third of the energy and last up to one and a half times as long as the fixtures they replace. In 2015, ComEd launched smart streetlight pilot projects in Bensenville and Lombard. Informed by learnings from these pilots, ComEd is developing plans to replace all 140,000 ComEd-owned municipal streetlights with LED streetlights beginning later this year. One of the first programs that the MMC will manage for ComEd under the MOU is a series of workshops with the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association in south Cook County to help municipalities identify potential projects that they’d like to pursue. Connecting smart streetlights to the ComEd smart grid allows communities to remotely and instantaneously dim lights for energy savings and brighten them for greater safety. They can also be controlled on-demand by first responders to better manage emergency situations. Smart streetlights can also serve as a backbone for sensor-based, smart city features that allow for a broad range of solutions, from intelligent waste management to air quality monitoring, snow removal monitoring and traffic management. Founded in 1997, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus is a membership organization of the Chicago region’s 275 cities, towns and villages. ComEd and the MMC have a long history of collaborating on issues that impact the region, such as energy efficiency, Powering Safe Community grants and storm response through the creation of Joint Operations Centers to help manage service restoration following extreme weather events. Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 10 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.9 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
News Article | April 13, 2017
The 21st century has ushered in a new era of measuring personal progress. With wearable technologies, we can now collect more personal data than we ever thought possible, from heart rate and step count to standing time and sleep quality. The ability to measure what we want to manage in real time has brought new meaning to the phrase “big data.” Improved tools for data collection and analysis have not been limited to health metrics. Technologies for collecting energy data in our homes and buildings have improved, producing more and better data than ever before. When companies and researchers have easy access to such data, they can examine energy consumption trends and opportunities to reduce energy waste. These insights lead to more energy-efficient technologies and behaviors and keep money in consumers’ pockets. To reap these savings, state regulators have an important role to play in expanding and guiding energy data access. Through a new state policy toolkit piece and a convening of state regulators with the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), ACEEE is digging deeper into the connection between building energy data access and greater energy efficiency. Access to energy data offers an array of benefits. Residents and multifamily building owners can use building energy data to pinpoint and prioritize potential energy efficiency projects. Businesses can use these data to develop new, automated, and increasingly user-friendly analytical tools to extract consumption insights. Utilities can use data to increase savings from energy efficiency programs and identify opportunities for future system upgrades. However, despite their increased availability, energy consumption data can still be difficult to work with and is not always accessible to building owners and tenants. State regulators have begun to develop streamlined, statewide data access guidelines as a way to unleash these benefits, drive new energy business models, and ensure customer privacy. The Illinois Commerce Commission, for example, has issued guidelines on customer consent for third-party access to energy usage data, and advocates in North Carolina are pushing for data access legislation in 2017. State regulators often address data access in proceedings related to advanced metering infrastructure and grid modernization, but they can also open new proceedings to discuss issues about energy usage data. Within these proceedings, regulators can define major use cases, determine allowable third-party access, and address other process and enforcement-related considerations. In our new state policy toolkit piece, we describe these steps in greater detail and compile useful resources and state examples. This state-focused resource builds on an existing ACEEE local policy toolkit piece that explains the value of aggregated building energy data to individuals, households, and communities. Providing customers with access to these data is the first step, but enabling customers to use these data is the essential second step. A fitness tracker that withholds a user’s step count for three weeks isn’t particularly helpful. Similarly, an energy management platform that provides slow feedback to users makes it harder to connect energy consumption behavior with its impact on utility bills. The frequency and granularity of building energy data – and the platform that provides these data – distinguishes actionable feedback from vague numbers. At ACEEE and IMT’s data access discussion in February, it became apparent that timely and appropriately detailed data can help commercial and multifamily building owners reduce energy costs. Eugenia Gregorio, Vice President of Strategy and Sustainability at The Tower Companies, noted that there is a healthy sense of competition among commercial real estate owners, so Tower’s brokers and leasing agents market their energy efficiency initiatives by connecting low building operating costs with potential increases to tenants’ bottom line. Trisha Miller, Chief Sustainability Officer at WISHROCK, said that utility costs are one of its few variable expenses and that it uses energy data to reduce energy costs and invest in other services for its low-income and working-class residents. The value of building energy data will evolve as utilities, regulators, and businesses work together to deliver reliable and cost-effective energy services. By developing guidelines for energy data access, regulators can help utilities embrace innovation and better serve their customers. To enrich our new data access toolkit piece, ACEEE will continue to explore best practices for statewide energy data access policies. We want to help you! Please reach out to Mary Shoemaker (email@example.com) if you are interested in engaging or are in need of additional resources.
News Article | May 18, 2017
The white paper, RESTRUCTURING RECHARGED – The Superior Performance of Competitive Electricity Markets 2008-2016, was prepared by Philip R. O'Connor, Ph.D., former chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, on behalf of the Retail Energy Supply Association. "Weighted average prices in the group of 35 monopoly states have risen inexorably. By contrast, in the 14 competitive markets, commercial and industrial weighted average prices have trended significantly downward as residential prices have flattened," said O'Connor. "Given the demonstrably superior performance of retail choice markets, a coming second wave of retail electricity market restructuring has begun, as evidenced by ongoing debates in Nevada, California, Nebraska, Michigan and elsewhere." "Consumers want and expect choices," said RESA President Darrin Pfannenstiel. "It makes little sense to cling to a monopoly regulatory model for electricity that is a vestige of 19th century economic thinking and a barrier to the efficient clean-energy economy that consumers and policymakers seek to embrace." The full report can be accessed on RESA's website here. Dr. O'Connor will be available to speak with news media representatives about the white paper and answer questions in a conference call at 1 pm Eastern today. The Retail Energy Supply Association is a broad and diverse group of retail energy suppliers who share the common vision that competitive retail energy markets deliver a more efficient, customer-oriented outcome than the regulated utility structure. For more information, visit www.resausa.org. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/comprehensive-analysis-finds-consumers-in-competitive-electricity-markets-fare-better-than-ratepayers-served-by-monopoly-utilities-300459938.html
News Article | February 28, 2017
The U.S. electric grid is old and frayed, yet innovative technologies – modern sensors, smart meters, and advanced telecommunications – offer hope to update it to become more modern, efficient, and clean. What all these smart-grid tools have in common is data. How we utilize the enormous quantities of information about how we move and use electricity will have major impacts on markets, customers, the environment, and our future electricity system. The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) recognized this when, in mid-February, they approved an energy data-sharing program for Illinois’ largest electric utility, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd). The program, developed and advanced by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Citizens Utility Board (CUB), allows companies and researchers access to anonymous energy-use data from ComEd’s nearly 4 million smart meters. This will encourage the development of energy-saving products and services designed to help Illinoisans save money. The data also will allow rooftop solar companies, energy efficiency providers, non-profits, researchers, cities, and other clean energy innovators to see which neighborhoods and blocks have the greatest potential for money-saving clean energy projects ─ ensuring no community is left behind. Moreover, this information will spur new offerings from smart home and appliance manufacturers, energy management specialists, HVAC and lighting companies, as well as market researchers. Much like the economic and customer benefits from digital phone data, electricity data benefits multiple bottom lines: Illinois is not the only state embracing the financial and environmental benefits of electricity data. A similar effort is being considered in New York as part of the Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding currently before state regulators. With states like Illinois and New York determined to prove what access to power data can do, we have even more hope in modernizing our electric grid and building the foundation for a clean economy.
News Article | February 21, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC, February 21, 2017-- Jesse Merrell has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.His latest book, "Reflections of an Ole Alabama Country Boy," reflects on some of the colorful and humorous characters Mr. Merrell met while growing up in Shelby, Alabama. It came out in December 2016.The writer who originally hails from Shelby, Ala., Mr. Merrell began his career in minor league baseball in 1958 as a pitcher for the Cincinnati Redlegs. After retiring from baseball and service in the U.S. Army, he became a reporter and news director for WHAP Radio in Hopewell, Va. This led to a position as a writer and editor for the Hopewell News, followed by a stint as state editor for the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Va. Mr. Merrell then relocated to Washington to become the associate editor of Transport Topics. In 1975, he served as special assistant to the president of the American Trucking Association before returning to Transport Topics as editor. Since 1977, Mr. Merrell has been the president of Merrell Enterprises in Washington.Over the years, Mr. Merrell also utilized his writing skills in a number of other capacities. He served on the public relations committee of the American Movers Conference for three years, taught Dale Carnegie courses for seven years, and served as a speechwriter for the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1982. His first novel, "A Christmas Gift," was published in 1979. His later publications include "The Merrells of Alabama," published in 1995, and "My Name is America: I Was Born at Jamestown!" published in 2002.Mr. Merrell has also been an active member and supporter of several organizations, including the National Press Club, the National Trust for Historical Preservation, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiques, the Regent's Circle of Mount Vernon, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and the Colonial Williamsburg Raleigh Tavern Society. He is a charter member of the General Washington's Council of The 1607 Society. Mr. Merrell received the George Washington Honor Award from the Freedoms Foundation in 2002, an honor certificate from the Freedoms Foundation in 1972, and a Liberty Award from the Congress of Freedom in 1970. He has received a number of writing awards as well.Mr. Merrell's accomplishments were taken into consideration when he was chosen to be featured in the 24th through 27th editions of Who's Who in the East, as well as several editions of Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.About Marquis Who's Who :Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who's Who in America , Marquis Who's Who has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who's Who in America remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis now publishes many Who's Who titles, including Who's Who in America , Who's Who in the World , Who's Who in American Law , Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare , Who's Who in Science and Engineering , and Who's Who in Asia . Marquis publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who's Who website at www.marquiswhoswho.com
News Article | February 16, 2017
Over 300 executives to attend the eighth-annual event, February 20-22 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, Texas DALLAS, TX--(Marketwired - Feb 16, 2017) - Parks Associates announced today that Centrica Connected Home, DTE Energy, Illinois Commerce Commission, Powerley, Toyota Motor North America, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will deliver keynotes and special sessions at the eighth-annual Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer, February 20-22 in Austin, Texas. The conference focuses on strategies for utilities to leverage the smart home to develop compelling value propositions for their customers and expand adoption of demand response, energy efficiency, distributed generation, smart meter, and AMI deployments and offerings. "An increasing number of IoT products are changing the energy management industry and creating new opportunities in the smart home," said Stuart Sikes, President, Parks Associates. "At Smart Energy Summit, we will address the intersection of these markets, which is creating new opportunities for energy providers, energy management companies, home control platforms and services, appliance and device manufacturers, and software and cloud service companies." Sudeep Maitra, Global Director of Strategy and Development, Centrica Connected Home, will present the event's opening keynote "Leading the Transition - Customer-first Strategies to Succeed in the IoT" on Tuesday, February 21, at 10 a.m. He will address how utilities and energy companies can shift from being asset developers and operators to delivering unique experiences that customers will value. "I'm delighted to be taking part in this year's summit, which is always a stimulating event," Maitra said. "By focusing on what customers need rather than the technology, Centrica's Hive brand is leading the smart home market in the U.K. We're now building on that success and those customer insights to bring our unique end-to-end services to homes in new markets, including North America. I hope attendees will be encouraged by our own story of transition and inspired to do likewise." Irene Dimitry, Vice President, Business Planning and Development, DTE Energy; and Manoj Kumar, CEO, Powerley, will deliver the joint keynote address "Bridging the Smart Grid to the Smart Home" on Tuesday, February 21, at 4:15 p.m. Dimitry and Kumar will detail the pathway to utility-led smart home adoption, delving into the key obstacles discovered and the key insights uncovered to date. Following the joint keynote, Ann McCabe, Consultant; Former Commissioner, Illinois Commerce Commission; and Abigail Daken, ENERGY STAR Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will lead a pair of special sessions. Kevin Butt, General Manager, Environmental, Toyota Motor North America, will present the event's final keynote "Connected Car & Smart Energy - What is the Connection?" on Wednesday, February 22, at 9:45 a.m. He will outline how Toyota is working toward a more connected future, through a multitude of collaborative and creative partnerships. "More than one-fourth of U.S. broadband households currently own a smart home product," said Tom Kerber, Director, IoT Strategy, Parks Associates. "This year's Smart Energy Summit features influential industry speakers providing in-depth discussion on ways to leverage these smart home devices in order to expand the role of energy in the IoT." Parks Associates is accepting press pass requests for Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer at http://www.parksassociates.com/ses-presspass. More information about the Smart Energy Summit is available at www.SES2017.com. Parks Associates will also host a pre-conference research workshop, "Utilities and Consumer Engagement Strategies," on Monday, February 20, from 1:00-5:00 p.m. To speak with an analyst or request specific research data, contact Holly Sprague at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-987-6614. About Smart Energy Summit Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer examines new cross-industry opportunities in the expanding market for energy solutions, including connected devices, energy management, utility services, and home control platforms and services, as they evolve within the smart home and consumer-based Internet of Things. Smart Energy Summit focuses particularly on the challenge of engaging consumers with energy-related solutions. Research analysts, thought leaders, and industry executives present and discuss business strategies, case studies, partnership opportunities, and consumer research that utilities, service providers, retailers, and manufacturers can use to expand and monetize their energy offerings. The eighth-annual Smart Energy Summit will take place February 20-22, 2017, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, Texas. The summit agenda features leaders from utilities, state and national regulators, telecom and security companies, retailers, and OEMs. Follow the event on Twitter at @SmartEnergySmt and #SmartEnergy17 and on the Smart Energy Insights Blog. For information on speaking, sponsoring, or attending Smart Energy Summit, visit www.ses2017.com.
News Article | March 1, 2017
CHICAGO, March 1, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) voted unanimously to hold additional hearings and gather more information on the mismanaged Peoples Gas pipeline-replacement program. Ordering a further investigation is a positive development,...