Transition Is Enveloping U.S. Electricity Sector

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Wall Street Journal:The rapid rise of wind and natural gas as sources of electricity is roiling U.S. power markets, forcing more companies to close older generating plants.Wholesale electricity prices are falling near historic lows in parts of the country with competitive power markets, as demand for electricity remains stagnant while newer, less-expensive generating facilities continue to come online.The changing American electricity landscape is pressuring power companies to shed unprofitable plants and reshape their portfolios to favor the new winners. Texas provides a clear example.Citing low gas prices and the proliferation of renewables such as wind and solar, Vistra Energy Corp., a vestige of the former Energy Future Holdings Corp., said it would retire three coal-fired facilities in Texas by early next year and that it plans to merge with independent power producer Dynegy Inc. Exelon Corp., the country’s largest owner of nuclear power plants, placed its Texas subsidiary under bankruptcy protection earlier this month, saying that “historically low power prices within Texas have created challenging market conditions for all power generators.”The average wholesale power price was less than $25 per megawatt hour last year on the grid that coordinates electricity distribution across most of Texas, according to the operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. A decade ago, it was $55.Prices have fallen a similar amount on the PJM Interconnection LLC, the power grid that serves some or all of 13 states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio. A megawatt hour there traded for $29.23 last year, the lowest level since 1999, as far back as the grid’s independent market monitor tracks prices.The price drop at PJM reflects the construction of dozens of new gas-burning power plants, spurred by the abundance of the fuel due to the shale drilling boom. In 2006, 8% of the electricity in PJM was generated by natural gas. In 2016, it was 27%.Weak demand for electricity also has played a role, as Americans purchase more energy-efficient appliances and companies shave power consumption to cut costs. Last year, power demand in PJM grew 0.3% after falling the two previous years.In competitive regions in places like California, wholesale electricity is sold through daily auctions that favor the least-expensive sources of power. The resulting competition—by more power plants to buyers of roughly the same number of megawatts—has most-acutely impacted older coal and nuclear plants, which are struggling to provide competitively priced power. It has even begun to affect older natural-gas-fired facilities that have higher costs.An analysis by investment bank Lazard shows that on an unsubsidized basis and over the lifetime of a facility in North America, it costs about $60 to generate a megawatt hour of electricity using a combined-cycle natural-gas plant, compared with $102 burning coal and nearly $150 using nuclear. By that criteria, Lazard estimates electricity from utility-scale solar and wind facilities is now even cheaper than gas.A megawatt hour of electricity from utility-scale crystalline solar comes in at $49.50 and wind at $45. That metric carries an important caveat, however: It doesn’t factor in that wind and solar are more intermittent producers of power than conventional generation sources, since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.“It’s too late,” David Schlissel, a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said of the Trump administration’s proposals. “The lesson is if you don’t put your thumb on the scale then gas and renewables will out-compete coal.”More: Electricity Prices Plummet as Gas, Wind Gain Traction and Demand Stalls Transition Is Enveloping U.S. Electricity Sectorlast_img read more

The end of banking at credit unions?

first_imgSince their inception, I suspect, credit unions have been trying to come up with a clever word to replace the noun, verb, and adjective that so succinctly describes financial institutions and the transfer of money within and between them. I’m referring of course to the B word. It’s a word some credit unions embrace and even use to describe themselves, while others steer clear of it to differentiate themselves from their FI counterparts. I recall speaking with a credit union executive who avoided the B word like the plague, even rejecting the notion of piggybanks. I asked him for an alternate phrase to describe the change holders and he lightheartedly replied “piggy credit unions.”Alas, there is a solution, for credit unions that choose to put it into play, that will bring an end to banking at member-owned cooperatives. The question challenge is, which credit unions will be the first to adopt this solution? We’re talking about semantics, so let’s consider what is involved.As difficult as it is to create a term to replace “banking,” the larger challenge is getting it to stick. It would take an extremely innovative marketing campaign to capture attention and create stickiness. Moreover, like a cheerleading squad, every employee from the front line to the back office and up and down across all disciplines would have to be onboard. Buy-in from within is essential to the success of any campaign.Traditionally, credit unions have not been known as trendsetters, but as they continue to outpace small banks in market share (DiSalvo J. a., 2017), so too have they grown in popularity. The image that credit unions are “your grandfather’s financial institution” is dissipating.While discussing with another credit union executive the benefits of engaging the community through financial education and simultaneously promoting credit union membership, he quipped about neither having the time nor budget to teach the masses what a credit union is. He understood my reasoning and I understood his, and after our brief meeting, I understood why he branded his CU as a bank. Thousands of other CUs, however, prefer to differentiate themselves from banks especially given the current climate that is a distaste for big banking.The terminology I am about to suggest will not change the financial industry overnight. If employed successfully, it will happen slowly over time as one-by-one credit unions adopt the nomenclature. Nor am I offering the ultimate panacea. Perhaps my suggestion will prompt more synonyms for the B word that can be used in various parts of speech. The key is to find a word or phrase that needs no explanation, no tag line. It just needs to be used, and like the dozens of new words and phrases that enter the English language year after year, it needs to be repeated to the point it sticks.Whether making a deposit or a withdraw, applying for a loan or checking balances, or settling account disputes, when we visit our financial institution, we conduct either a personal or business Financial Transaction. FT or Efty. That’s it! It’s that simple.As a noun:Your FTs are safe and secure with our online system.Your efties are safe and secure with our online system.As a verb:FT with us and rest easy, knowing your hard-earned money is protected.Efty with us and rest easy, knowing your hard-earned money is protected.As an adjective:As your FT partners, we’re always here to offer sound solutions.As your efty partners, we’re always here to offer sound solutions.Before you discard FT or efty as nonsense, think about the first time you heard the word Google, or the abbreviations OMG and LOL, or the acronym MAGA. Politics, texting, and search engine preferences aside, the first time you heard any of these you likely said, “Huh?”Now, about that cute, little, hollowed out, porcelain coin container…. We could call it a coin hog but piggybank is simply classic! 101SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Lorraine Ranalli Lorraine Ranalli is Chief Storyteller & Communications Director, as well as published author. Her most recent work, Impact: Deliver Effective, Meaningful, and Memorable Presentations, is a pocket book of public … Web: LorraineRanalli.com Detailslast_img read more