Smart Power Anniversary Edition
6 x 9
Few industries in the U.S. are as stuck in the past as our utilities are. In the face of growing challenges from climate change and the need for energy security, a system and a business model that each took more than a century to evolve must now be extensively retooled in the span of a few decades. Despite the need, many of the technologies and institutions needed are still being designed or tested. It is like rebuilding our entire airplane fleet, along with our runways and air traffic control system, while the planes are all up in the air filled with passengers.
In this accessible and insightful book, Peter Fox-Penner considers how utilities interact with customers and how the Smart Grid could revolutionize their relationship. Turning to the supply side, he considers the costs of, and tradeoffs between, large-scale power sources such as coal plants and small-scale power sources close to customers. Finally, he looks at how utilities can respond to all of these challenges and remain viable, while financing hundreds of billions of dollars of investment without much of an increase in sales.
Upon publication, Smart Power was praised as an instant classic on the future of energy utilities. This Anniversary Edition includes up-to-date assessments of the industry by such leading energy experts as Daniel Estes and Jim Rogers, as well as a new afterword from the author. Anyone who is interested in our energy future will appreciate the clear explanations and the in-depth analysis it offers.
"A valuable and insightful analysis of where the U.S. electric power industry is headed and what it must do to successfully transition to a low carbon environment. This book should be required reading for all industry regulators as they prepare to confront the challenges of this new paradigm."
Mark Crisson, Chief Executive Officer of the American Public Power Association
"Few economist/engineers understand the electricity system as well as Peter Fox-Penner, and far fewer can explain it as lucidly. Whether or not you agree with every detail, his vision of the opportunities, risks, uncertainties, and tipping-points of this vast and crucial industry is powerful and provocative."
Amory B. Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
"…a thoughtful vision of the opportunities for the electric power industry to make use of new organizational and regulatory frameworks and new technologies so that it can successfully adapt to climate change, energy security and economic efficiency challenges ...."
Paul Joskow, President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
"If you're serious about policies that place energy efficiency on a level playing field with new energy supplies, and energy policy generally, this book is essential reading."
Art Rosenfeld, former Commissioner of the California Energy Commission
"Smart Power is the most advanced look at how climate policies will change our energy utilities, from power sources to operations to business models."
Joe Romm, Editor of Climate Progress, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
"An excellent treatment of the critical issues facing the electricity industry."
Thomas R. Kuhn, President of The Edison Electric Institute
"Smart Power paints a sharp picture of the historic challenges facing the utility industry, its regulators and the nation at large. Peter Fox-Penner's urgent call for a bottoms-up solution relying on local, state and regional cooperation and creativity presages the work now ongoing across the country. Smart Power is an essential read for policy makers looking for workable solutions for the next decade and beyond."
Charles Gray, Executive Director of the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners
"An absolutely terrific piece of work—remarkable scope and depth, while remaining accessible and pragmatic."
John Kwoka, Finnegan Professor of Economics, Northeastern University
"The thoroughness and authority of the book stand out, and as both a popular policy and business strategy book, Smart Power is a compelling read for a wide range of audiences."
“Probably the best holistic treatment of the critical issues facing the electricity industry that I have ever read.”
John Caldwell, Director of Economics at the Edison Electric Institute
"[Smart Power] proves that understanding how the electricity utility market works – and how radically it must change – is fundamental to the clean energy debate."
Chapter 1. The First Electric Revolution
Chapter 2. Deregulation, Past and Prologue
PART I. The Smart Grid and Electricity Sales
Chapter 3. The New Paradigm
Chapter 4. Smart Electric Pricing
Chapter 5. The Regulatory Mountain
Chapter 6. The (Highly Uncertain) Future of Sales
PART II. Supply Side Challenges
Chapter 7. The Aluminum Sky
Chapter 8. The Great Power Shift
Chapter 9. Billion Dollar Bets
PART III. Business Models for the New Utility Industry
Chapter 10. Energy Efficiency: The Buck Stops Where?
Chapter 11. Two and a Half Business Models
Chapter 12. The Smart Integrator
Chapter 13. The Energy Services Utility
Technical Appendix A
Technical Appendix B
Technical Appendix C
With climate change already impacting us, what policies should we prioritize now to achieve a low carbon future? And what are the models for urban development that will put cities on the low carbon path while helping them thrive in a changing climate?
Join SSF and Island Press in a 90-minute webinar to explore these questions. Peter Fox-Penner, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Boston University, will moderate. He’ll be joined by panelists Hal Harvey, CEO of Energy Innovation and co-author of Designing Climate Solutions, and John Cleveland, Executive Director of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission and co-author of Life After Carbon.
With the end of COP 21 and the signing of the historic Paris Agreement, it’s not just countries that are thinking about how to reduce emissions—individuals are reflecting on how their habits and actions impact climate change as well.
Island Press authors shared what they’re doing to reduce their carbon footprints and, in some cases, what more they could be doing. Check out their answers and share your own carbon cutbacks—or vices—in the comments.
Jason Mark, author of Satellites in the High Country:
Very much like the Paris Climate Accord itself, ecological sustainability is a process, not a destination. Which, I'll admit, is a squirrely way of saying that I'm doing my best to reduce my carbon footprint. I ride my bike. I take mass transit. Most days my car never leaves the spot in front of our home. Most importantly, I have sworn off beef because of cattle production's disproportionate climate impact. The (grass-fed, humane) burger still has a siren song, but I ignore it.
Grady Gammage, author of The Future of the Suburban City:
I drive a hybrid, ride light rail to the airport and don’t bother to turn on the heat in my house (which is possible in Phoenix). My greatest carbon sin is my wood burning fireplace. I don’t use it when there’s a “no burn” day, but otherwise, I have a kind of primordial attraction to building a fire.
John Cleveland, co-author of Connecting to Change the World:
We just installed a 12 KW solar array on our home in New Hampshire. At the same time, we electrified our heating system with Mitsubishi heat pumps. So our home is now net positive from both an electricity and heating point of view. We made the solar array large enough to also power an electric car, but are waiting for the new models that will have more range before we install the electric car charger. The array and heat pumps have great economics. The payback period is 8-years and after that we get free heat and electricity for the remainder of the system life — probably another 20+ years. Great idea for retirement budgets!
Dan Fagin, author of Toms River:
Besides voting for climate-conscious candidates, the most important thing we can do as individuals is fly less, so I try to take the train where possible. I wish it were a better option.
Darrin Nordahl, author of Public Produce:
The United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China, and how we produce food in this country is responsible for much of those emissions. From agriculture, to the fossil fuels needed to produce bags and boxes for pre-packaged food, to the burning of gas and oil to transport both fresh produce and pre-packaged food, I have discovered I can reduce my carbon footprint with a simple change in my diet. For one, I avoid processed food of any sort. I also grow a good portion of my vegetables and herbs and, thankfully, local parks with publicly accessible fruit trees provide a modicum of fresh fruit for my family. We also eat less meat than we used to and our bodies (and our planet) are healthier because of it.
Yoram Bauman, author of The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change:
I try to put on warm slippers or other extra layers around the house in order to not have to heat the house so much, but I still like to take long hot showers. (Maybe those two things are connected).
Rob McDonald, author of Conservation for Cities:
I try to pay attention to my daily habits that make up a lot of my carbon footprint. So I bike to work, or take mass transit. That gets rid of the carbon footprint of driving. I also try to only moderately heat or cool my home, so I’m not burning a lot of energy doing that. The biggest component of my carbon footprint that I haven’t managed to cut is for travel. I have to travel once or twice a month for my job, and unless it is a trip in the Northeast (when I can just use Amtrak!), I am stuck travelling. The carbon footprint of all that air travel is huge. I try to do virtual meetings, rather than travel whenever I can, but there still seems to be a big premium people place on meeting folks face to face.
Emily Monosson, author of Unnatural Selection:
We keep our heat really low in the winter (ask our teenage daughter, it's way too cold for her here!) and I hang my clothes on the line in the summer. Because it’s so cold, I love taking really hot long showers. I should also hang my clothes in the winter too, and ditch the dryer.
Jonathan Barnett and Larry Beasley, co-authors of Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs:
We both live in a town-house in the central part of a city – on opposite sides of the continent: one in Philadelphia the other in Vancouver. Our neighborhoods have 100% walk scores. We each own one car, but don’t need to drive it very much - most of the time we can go where they need to on foot. We wrote our book using email and Dropbox. What they still need to work on is using less air travel in the future.
Jan Gehl, author of Cities for People:
I live in Denmark where 33% of the energy is delivered by windmills. A gradual increase will happen in the coming years. As in most other countries in the developed world, too much meat is on the daily diet. That is absolutely not favorable for the carbon footprint. It sounds like more salad is called for in the future!
Suzanne Shaw, co-author of Cooler Smarter:
Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low Carbon Living provides a roadmap for consumers to cut their carbon footprint 20 percent (or more). My approach to lowering my carbon footprint has gone hand in hand with saving money through sensible upgrades. Soon after I purchase my 125-year-old house I added insulation, weather stripping and a programmable thermostat. When I needed a new furnace, I swapped a dirty oil furnace to a cleaner, high-efficiency natural gas model. And now have LED bulbs in every fixture in the house, Energy Star appliances throughout, and power strips at my entertainment and computer areas. This summer, I finally installed solar panels through a 25-year lease (zero out-of-pocket expense). In the month of September, I had zero emissions from electricity use. Living in the city, I am fortunate to have access to public transportation and biking, which keeps our household driving to a minimum.
Peter Fox-Penner, author of Smart Power Anniversary Edition:
I’m reducing my footprint by trying to eat vegan, taking Metro rather than taxis or Ubers, and avoiding excess packaging. Right now I travel too much, especially by air. P.S. Later this year I’ll publish my carbon footprint on the website of the new Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy. Watch for it!
Carlton Reid, author of Roads Were Not Built for Cars:
Our family has a (small) car but I cycle pretty much all of the time. My kids cycle to school (some days) and my wife cycles to work (sometimes). It’s useful to have the car for some journeys, long ones mostly, but having a family fleet of bikes means we don’t need a second car. Reducing one’s carbon footprint can be doing less of something not necessarily giving up something completely. If everybody reduced their car mileage (and increased their active travel mileage) that would be good for the planet and personally: win/win.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
Around the world, renewable energy is making headlines: last May, clean energy supplied almost all of Germany’s power demand for one day, while Portugal ran entirely on renewable energy for 107 hours straight. We asked some of our authors how these accomplishments will affect the way other countries think about renewable energy, and what this means for the US. Check out what they had to say below.
Renewables are already being taken seriously by the marketplace, but ultimately it’s a matter of economics: fossil fuels don’t pay their true cost—including the costs associated with emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants—and so it’s not a level playing field. A carbon tax (like the Yeson732.org carbon tax effort I’m part of that will be on the ballot in Washington State in November) would help internalize those external costs and give a boost to renewables and conservation. It’s still going to be a long time before the USA operates entirely on renewables for a day or more—it’s a big country and we’ve got a lot of coal and natural-gas power plants—but the sooner we start moving in that direction the better!
-Yoram Bauman, author The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change
It is great to see these milestones achieved, but I think even more important climate policy and achievements are now starting to be seen on the horizon. There is a new wave of policymaking focused on 80 percent or even complete decarbonization of energy by 2050, travelling far beyond the 2030 date in most official goals and plans, including the U.S. Clean Power Plan. While the 2050 works are in their early stages, and most are closer to visioning exercises than actionable plans, this is the next phase of planning and operations for no-carbon energy. Thirty-five years is a very long time to plan forward, but it is within the life span of many large energy technologies and nearly all of the buildings that are in existence today. Every year we move towards 2050 we lock in more of the system that will be in place, or already retired, by that year, so it’s really the right time to start working on this. Almost makes you want to start singing that old Fleetwood Mac song, the theme of Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign. Google it, you twenty-somethings.
-Peter Fox-Penner, author Smart Power Anniversary Edition
Many press reports said Portugal and Germany were getting all their energy from renewables during these short periods of abundant wind and sunlight. But it’s important to remember that we’re really talking only about electricity, which currently represents about 20 percent of global final energy usage. The other 80 percent of energy usage occurs mostly in transportation, agriculture, industrial processes, and in heating buildings, and currently requires liquid, gaseous, and solid hydrocarbon fuels. We have a big challenge ahead of us in electrifying those areas of energy usage. Continue reading Richard's full post here.
-Richard Heinberg, co-author Our Renewable Future
Yoram Bauman, co-author of The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change and “the world’s first and only stand-up economist,” performs regularly at colleges and corporate events, sharing the stage with everyone from Robin Williams to Paul Krugman. He has appeared in Time Magazine and on PBS and NPR, and his previous collaboration with Grady Klein resulted in the two-volume Cartoon Introduction to Economics.
Richard Heinberg is Senior Fellow-in-Residence of Post Carbon Institute and is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost educators on the need to transition away from fossil fuels. He is the author of twelve books, including seminal works on society’s sustainability crisis, The Party’s Over: Oil, War & the Fate of Industrial Societies and The End of Growth: Adapting the Our New Economic Reality.