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Utility Dive's 2021 Outlook: 10 Power Sector Trends to Watch

Posted by Catherine Morehouse on Jan 13, 2021

Utility Dive highlighted 10 power sector trends to watch this year, quoting AEE experts on EVs, clean energy policy, and changing battery infrastructure. The piece also  links to AEE's recent EV Trucks blog post. Read excerpts below and the full story here.

At this time last year, few people — if anyone — could have predicted what 2020 would bring. That tumultuous year has not yet led to a calmer one, but if January 2020 taught us anything, it's that the first days of a new year may not always be a sign of what's to come. With that being said, Utility Dive spoke to over half a dozen power sector experts who tentatively predict big changes on the horizon in 2021.

A new administration under a new party is one sign that 2021 will look different for policymakers, utilities and other stakeholders, but the continuation of some older trends is expected as well: Utilities will continue to invest aggressively in renewable energy resources, and the power sector will continue to evolve toward a less centralized model...

Accelerated investments in EVs, transmission and other green infrastructure are expected to come through a new stimulus package that would ideally target state and local aid, freeing up state budgets so that they can pursue large, comprehensive clean energy packages of their own, according to J.R. Tolbert, managing director at Advanced Energy Economy

A more aggressive federal approach to clean energy will require a more aggressive Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, observers say. 

"The focus on the agency, as a linchpin of clean energy policies, has really been pretty remarkable," said Jeff Dennis, managing director and general counsel at Advanced Energy Economy (AEE). "There's gonna be a lot of expectations, and they're going to have to prioritize, given bandwidth."

Part of the commission's challenge will be in how it should address the commission's controversial expansion of the minimum offer price rule in the PJM Interconnection and its elimination of buyer-side mitigation rules in the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) market, Dennis and other observers say… 

Southeast utilities' proposal to form a centralized energy exchange market — the Southeast Energy Exchange Market (SEEM) — could play an interesting role in the debate over whether to open more regions to wholesale market competition…  If the SEEM proposal does get to FERC, the big question will be what the commission does with it, according to Dennis.

"Will they use it as an opportunity to engage with the states in the region, and with large customers in the region, and renewable developers in the region around what the future of wholesale markets looks like in the region?" he said, in addition to digging into whether SEEM itself is a structure they would approve...

How California prepares its grid for this summer is something regulators, lawmakers, regional grid operators, utilities and others are likely to keep a close eye on, according to analysts… "It is a CAISO problem, not a clean energy problem," said Tolbert… 

Declining battery costs are expected to boost the selection and price of electric vehicle models available in the market dramatically, which experts say is key to amplifying EVs' overall market share…

Models available to U.S. customers are anticipated to more than triple in the next three years, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, jumping from roughly 40 to 127. Those new models include electric pickup trucks, filling a major vacancy in the EV market, according to AEE.

Models available to U.S. customers are anticipated to more than triple in the next three years, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, jumping from roughly 40 to 127. Those new models include electric pickup trucks, filling a major vacancy in the EV market, according to AEE… 

"Everybody's behind on charging infrastructure, and it has big implications for the market," said Matt Stanberry, managing director at AEE, "So there's a lot of interest in it."

Read the full story here.

Topics: AEE In The News