What comes to mind when you here the term “prepaid metering?” Let me guess… It’s a good way to:
- Limit the bad debt caused by credit-challenged low-income customers
- Limit the write-offs caused by energy theft
- Limit utility employees’ exposure to the dangers of having to deal with customers in “bad” neighborhood
No wonder it’s a concept that is not wholeheartedly embraced by utilities in the United States. The negative stigma that has been attached to it has prevented numerous utilities, concerned with customer and regulator perceptions, from implementing such programs. No one can deny that utilities are not noted for being early adopters. Typically, their regulatory structures do not incent them to be proactive or innovative. Many have grown used to writing off the bad debt attributable to uncollectables and theft of energy through rate case filings.
This article was first published in WindPower Monthly, March 2014.
Australian wind energy has been on a roll for much of the time since the introduction of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) in 2001. Installed capacity currently stands at more than 3GW, up from just 200MW a decade ago. Behind this success are a world-class wind resource and a well developed supply chain. Investment in wind will account for the lion’s share of the A$18.7 billion (US$ 16.3 billion) expected to be generated by the RET.
But despite strong historical performance, political wrangling over federally-legislated RET has made investors wary and the future of wind energy in Australia is uncertain.
Some comfort has been provided by the federally-funded Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena). although the respite may be shortlived. Arena is facing cuts to its funding and the CEFC is at risk of being dismantled under the new conservative coalition government that took power in September. …READ MORE
Drivers of future storage markets
Before the dawn of the 20th century, burning wood was the main source of energy. The 20th century witnessed three major fuel transitions from wood to coal, to oil, to gas. The past century also brought us hydro and nuclear power. The use of these fuel sources is not expected to grow in the 21st century; and in fact, some of them, like coal, are expected to become an insignificant part of our energy portfolio. As shown in Figure 1, the flourishing fuels of the 21st century are renewables particularly solar energy that is the most accessible form at the consumer level.