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Smart Power: Climate Change, the Smart Grid, and the Future of Electric Utilities

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A new national policy on climate change is under debate in the United States and is likely to result in a cap on greenhouse gas emissions for utilities. This and other developments will prompt utilities to undergo the largest changes in their history. Smart Power examines the many facets of this unprecedented transformation. This enlightening book begins with a look back o A new national policy on climate change is under debate in the United States and is likely to result in a cap on greenhouse gas emissions for utilities. This and other developments will prompt utilities to undergo the largest changes in their history. Smart Power examines the many facets of this unprecedented transformation. This enlightening book begins with a look back on the deregulatory efforts of the 1990s and their gradual replacement by concerns over climate change, promoting new technologies, and developing stable prices and supplies. In thorough but non-technical terms it explains the revolutionary changes that the Smart Grid is bringing to utility operations. It also examines the options for low-carbon emissions along with the real-world challenges the industry and its regulators must face as the industry retools and finances its new sources and systems. Throughout the book, Peter Fox-Penner provides insights into the policy choices and regulatory reform needed to face these challenges. He not only weighs the costs and benefits of every option, but presents interviews with informed experts, including economists, utility CEOs, and engineers. He gives a brief history of the development of the current utility business model and examines possible new business models that are focused on energy efficiency. Smart Power explains every aspect of the coming energy revolution for utilities in lively prose that will captivate even the most techno-phobic readers.


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A new national policy on climate change is under debate in the United States and is likely to result in a cap on greenhouse gas emissions for utilities. This and other developments will prompt utilities to undergo the largest changes in their history. Smart Power examines the many facets of this unprecedented transformation. This enlightening book begins with a look back o A new national policy on climate change is under debate in the United States and is likely to result in a cap on greenhouse gas emissions for utilities. This and other developments will prompt utilities to undergo the largest changes in their history. Smart Power examines the many facets of this unprecedented transformation. This enlightening book begins with a look back on the deregulatory efforts of the 1990s and their gradual replacement by concerns over climate change, promoting new technologies, and developing stable prices and supplies. In thorough but non-technical terms it explains the revolutionary changes that the Smart Grid is bringing to utility operations. It also examines the options for low-carbon emissions along with the real-world challenges the industry and its regulators must face as the industry retools and finances its new sources and systems. Throughout the book, Peter Fox-Penner provides insights into the policy choices and regulatory reform needed to face these challenges. He not only weighs the costs and benefits of every option, but presents interviews with informed experts, including economists, utility CEOs, and engineers. He gives a brief history of the development of the current utility business model and examines possible new business models that are focused on energy efficiency. Smart Power explains every aspect of the coming energy revolution for utilities in lively prose that will captivate even the most techno-phobic readers.

30 review for Smart Power: Climate Change, the Smart Grid, and the Future of Electric Utilities

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melek

    I will admit that I'm not the most attentive reader when it comes to book blurbs, and it has been a while since I requested this book on NetGalley, so when I started this today without checking the subject again, I expected it to be about how to save power to get a grip on climate change and how to control the use of electricity better in your life. You could say I was more than a little puzzled when I saw it started with a chapter named The First Electricity Revolution. While the book does have I will admit that I'm not the most attentive reader when it comes to book blurbs, and it has been a while since I requested this book on NetGalley, so when I started this today without checking the subject again, I expected it to be about how to save power to get a grip on climate change and how to control the use of electricity better in your life. You could say I was more than a little puzzled when I saw it started with a chapter named The First Electricity Revolution. While the book does have a goal of helping you understand the use of electricity better, it does this in a very complicated way. Not that I expected a 376-page book to be a simple bus read, but still, it wouldn't be some bad if it was made for the general reader as well as a relatively deep reference book. It's not too hard to understand, but at parts, it makes you want to give up on reading and reach for a cheesy romance to rest a little. It is too good to get a 3/5, but I can't bring myself to give it a 5/5 o even a 4/5, so I'll leave it unrated.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nikhil

    Easy and Quick read.... if you are teaching a class about it :D

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark Edwards

    the book is so well organized that those who are not familiar with the power industry can understand where it was, where it is now, and where it is going. This naturally leads to the discussion of smart grid and how it relates to the new challenges in the power industry. I particularly liked the way it explained smart grid in the context of smart power.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Maddox

    I read this for work, but found it really fascinating. Had no idea of the complexity in the utility industry. Didn't find it terribly technical either, but some understanding of business management / economics helps you grasp the motivations and business models. I read this for work, but found it really fascinating. Had no idea of the complexity in the utility industry. Didn't find it terribly technical either, but some understanding of business management / economics helps you grasp the motivations and business models.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul Byrne

    Great history of the grid and framework for understanding promising new technology and regulatory headwinds. Approachable but not light.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    When was the last time you thought about electricity, where it comes from, and who pays for it? Peter Fox-Penner takes on a lively and knowledgeable tour of our incredibly baroque electrical grid, from the vertically integrated major generators to deregulation of the 1990s. Essentially, the electrical system is based on an illusion of an effect market, carefully maintained with endless red tape. The "spot price" of electricity swings wildly from one day to the next, and even hour to hour as util When was the last time you thought about electricity, where it comes from, and who pays for it? Peter Fox-Penner takes on a lively and knowledgeable tour of our incredibly baroque electrical grid, from the vertically integrated major generators to deregulation of the 1990s. Essentially, the electrical system is based on an illusion of an effect market, carefully maintained with endless red tape. The "spot price" of electricity swings wildly from one day to the next, and even hour to hour as utilities balance demand from millions of appliances with generation from thousands of plants. Yet, even as the market price of electricity varies, consumers pay the same amount, whether it's for expensive power at 4:00 PM on a hot afternoon, or cheap power at 2:00 AM. The Smart Grid, a combination of consumer meters that can pay for electricity at market rates, along with appliances that adjust consumption to match price, distributed generation, and high voltage lines, might save money, and the planet, but there are immense political and technological barriers in place. The power sector is entrenched, complex, and fully of traps for the unwary. Most of all, this book shows that immense resolve will be required to make a better future.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Deetjen

    If you are interested in renewable energy, distributed generation, and other hot energy topics, "Smart Power" has a lot to offer you. While it doesn't spend much time discussing the merits of different energy technologies, it gives an excellent introduction to the electric utilities industry and many convincing arguments of why an understanding of the utilities industry is an important facet to your ability to participate in the clean energy debate. "Smart Power" gives a holistic view of the ele If you are interested in renewable energy, distributed generation, and other hot energy topics, "Smart Power" has a lot to offer you. While it doesn't spend much time discussing the merits of different energy technologies, it gives an excellent introduction to the electric utilities industry and many convincing arguments of why an understanding of the utilities industry is an important facet to your ability to participate in the clean energy debate. "Smart Power" gives a holistic view of the electricity generation market. Chronologically, the author discusses the history, current status, and potential future trajectories of the power market. Technologically, the author explains modern generation and transmission strategies, and the future economic, regulatory, and technology scenarios that could occur. I found the book to be mostly unbiased. The author envisions a number of future scenarios, and while he does discuss his opinion about the most likely turn of events, he leaves enough uncertainty to lend credibility to other options.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Raisa

    Fabulously written book! I started reading Smart Power to understand the basics of the electricity system and came away with a much more sophisticated understanding than I anticipated as a neophyte in the subject matter. Context, issues, and players are presented clearly without diminishing the complex relationships amongst each other. Would highly recommend to others who are interested in learning more about how the electricity system works, its origins, and present challenges. Some projections Fabulously written book! I started reading Smart Power to understand the basics of the electricity system and came away with a much more sophisticated understanding than I anticipated as a neophyte in the subject matter. Context, issues, and players are presented clearly without diminishing the complex relationships amongst each other. Would highly recommend to others who are interested in learning more about how the electricity system works, its origins, and present challenges. Some projections are out of date, but the focus on addressing climate change and energy security needs remain. Given the history and current operations, it is astonishing how reliable the grid is despite its organic growth and multitude of business models. A lot of work remains to be done!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I learned a lot in Parts I and II of this book. Part 3 contains broad outlines of how everything could fall into place: from power generation, transmission, distribution, newly needed smart components, and public policy. There's a great emphasis on economics in this book, in particular, increasing the market efficiency of power sales by having more dynamic pricing, and restructuring market incentives for utilities to sell less power and sell more power usage efficiency. I am skeptical of a mirac I learned a lot in Parts I and II of this book. Part 3 contains broad outlines of how everything could fall into place: from power generation, transmission, distribution, newly needed smart components, and public policy. There's a great emphasis on economics in this book, in particular, increasing the market efficiency of power sales by having more dynamic pricing, and restructuring market incentives for utilities to sell less power and sell more power usage efficiency. I am skeptical of a miracle technology to deliver us from our future energy needs, so I am hopeful, as the author suggests to me, that a combined policy and incentives change is the "low-hanging fruit solution" we could have implemented easily years ago.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pierre

    Fox-Penner steps through the key points in electric utility regulatory history to show just how nuanced and complex the challenge is in upgrading our electricity generation and delivery-distribution system for the decades ahead. He provides a clear set of scenarios and logical arguments in describing both the legal, institutional and technological shifts that will need to happen In order to transform our current electric utility system into one that is environmentally sustainable, resource-effic Fox-Penner steps through the key points in electric utility regulatory history to show just how nuanced and complex the challenge is in upgrading our electricity generation and delivery-distribution system for the decades ahead. He provides a clear set of scenarios and logical arguments in describing both the legal, institutional and technological shifts that will need to happen In order to transform our current electric utility system into one that is environmentally sustainable, resource-efficient, and reliable. Highly recommend for anyone who's career involves energy, utilities and/or climate-environment issues.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rishi Garg

    I wish the author spent more time discussing the Smart Integrator Model and Energy Services Utility model - those are both innovative concepts and deserve further explanation. My concern is that the content of much of the rest of the book is the stuff of electric stakeholder process - discussed every day in those process; but also, that it takes a good year within those processes to understand the concepts described in this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    I really had no idea how the electricity came to be in the magic boxes scattered throughout my house until I read this. I now have a greater understanding and appreciation of the process and infrastructure that powers daily life. Recommend to anyone wanting a basic understanding of our system and the ways in which it is changing to be "smarter" and how we can help it do just that. I really had no idea how the electricity came to be in the magic boxes scattered throughout my house until I read this. I now have a greater understanding and appreciation of the process and infrastructure that powers daily life. Recommend to anyone wanting a basic understanding of our system and the ways in which it is changing to be "smarter" and how we can help it do just that.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eric Senunas

    This is a smart book by one of the better minds in the industry. If you want to understand what is transitioning from a staid, boring industry to the one that will shape the 21st century, this is the place to start...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    Ok, so I didn't actually finish this book, go figure. It is very helpful in explaining electric utilities but I think it's best as a reference book instead of a straight read through. I'll keep it on my desk at work and flip through the chapters when I need them. Ok, so I didn't actually finish this book, go figure. It is very helpful in explaining electric utilities but I think it's best as a reference book instead of a straight read through. I'll keep it on my desk at work and flip through the chapters when I need them.

  15. 5 out of 5

    James Davis

    Informative... but a little out of date. The prices for solar technology have changed dramatically since the silicon price crashed (some new plants selling at $0.05/kWH).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Inara Scott

    Manages to take on the complex electric power system without getting bogged down in industry terminology or wonky language and scenarios. Straightforward and compelling.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is an interesting book on electricity, but I can't say that I completely understood all of it. I think it would be good to use as a reference, but not really for casual reading. This is an interesting book on electricity, but I can't say that I completely understood all of it. I think it would be good to use as a reference, but not really for casual reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Bray

    Really good insight into the factors at play in the electric energy grid and integrating renewables.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eva Agoulnik

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dan Tennant

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mira

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leron Lehman

  24. 4 out of 5

    Josh Sproat

  25. 4 out of 5

    StratoNine

  26. 5 out of 5

    Suraaj

  27. 5 out of 5

    Farhad Farahmand

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Cano

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leon Lahoud

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katie

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