Electric Industry News

The Kansas City Board of Public Utilities hosted a Dedication Ceremony for its new Community Solar Farm facility in Kansas City, Kansas, on September 26, 2017. Community leaders, elected officials, industry representatives, and environmental advocates gathered to see the first municipal solar farm in the state of Kansas, and BPU’s newest renewable energy resource.

By Morgan Chilson
Topeka Capital Journal
Posted September 22, 2017 

A Kansas Corporation Commission final order issued Thursday was a “real loss” for residential wind and solar users, an energy activist said, expressing dissatisfaction at the commission’s lack of willingness to engage in a substantive study of how distributed generation users affect the power grid. 

“We do feel like it was a real loss,” said Dorothy Barnett, executive director of the climate + energy project, based in Hutchinson. “But I will say we are not giving up.”

The KCC ruling laid out guidance regarding how utility companies can charge distributed generation customers, closing a general investigation opened in July 2016. Distributed generation is the term used to describe customers who can self-produce energy in small amounts to reduce their monthly energy bills.

On one side of the issue were utilities that say customers who get the bulk of their energy from residential wind or solar platforms aren’t paying their fair share of the fixed costs of the power grid. The companies want to set up a fee schedule that takes into account how DG customers use the grid, even as their solar or wind production reduces their energy consumption.

On the other side are energy advocates and solar/wind companies that say they want the utility companies to demonstrate exactly what the fixed costs are they’re not covering, and asking for an in-depth review of the costs and benefits that distributed generation users bring to the grid.

By Jack Gillum and Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post
Posted July 25, 2017 

Local and state government agencies from Oregon to Connecticut say they are using a Russian brand of security software despite the federal government’s instructions to its own agencies not to buy the software over concerns about cyberespionage, records and interviews show.

The federal agency in charge of purchasing, the General Services Administration, this month removed Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab from its list of approved vendors. In doing so, the agency’s statement suggested a vulnerability exists in Kaspersky that could give the Russian government backdoor access to the systems it protects, though they offered no explanation or evidence of it. Kaspersky has strongly denied coordinating with the Russian government and has offered to cooperate with federal investigators.

Click on the following link to read an article on the waning use of coal to generate electric energy: http://www.powermag.com/four-things-that-are-killing-coal/?pagenum=1 

By Laura D'Alessandro
APPA Contributing Writer
May 1, 2017

Even before smart meters, the utility industry was swimming in data about its customers. Now that data is flowing in much faster — every three seconds for some utilities, depending on their technology and software.

This much data benefits the utilities themselves, and others too. App developers are lining up to get their hands on anonymous utility user data. ComEd was recently given the green light by Illinois regulators to share data if customers opt in. The information is vital for building business lines that support the utility of the future.

By Amy Thomas, Government Relations Director, American Public Power Association

Cybersecurity has dominated the news lately — alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, WikiLeaks, massive retail data breaches… the list goes on.

Public power and all electric utilities take very seriously their responsibility to maintain a strong electric grid. As the grid evolves, unfortunately, so do threats to its integrity. The threat of cyber attacks is relatively new compared to long-known physical threats, but an attack with operational consequences could occur and cause disruptions in the flow of power if malicious actors were able to hack the systems that control and connect to our nation’s electricity infrastructure at any level.

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about cybersecurity and the electricity industry: