Author Archive: Cathy Kunkel

Energy Analyst Cathy Kunkel is an independent consultant with Kunkel Energy Research. She has testified before regulatory bodies and was a senior research associate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She has undergraduate and master’s degrees in physics.

IEEFA Puerto Rico: Input Is Being Sought Now on How to Strengthen Electricity System and Spur New Investment

Microgrids and Solar Energy Suggest a More Resilient Future; Cooperation Between Industry and Regulators Is Key

This is an important week in the recovery of Puerto Rico, where more than half the population of 3.5 million is still without electricity almost two months after Hurricane Maria. As part of its investigation into how the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has responded to Hurricane Maria, the Puerto Rico Energy Commission has […]

November 13, 2017 Read More →

IEEFA Update: The Puerto Rico Electricity ‘Privatization’ Discussion Is a Distraction

Turning PREPA Over to Outside Money Men Will Solve Nothing

Should the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority be privatized? That question, being kicked around in the wake of the collapse of the island’s grid, is serving mostly as a distraction from two fundamental challenges that hobbled Puerto Rico before Hurricane Maria and that continue to cripple it in the aftermath of the storm: (1) The […]

and November 6, 2017 Read More →

IEEFA Update: Puerto Rico’s Solution—a Microgrid System Supported by Solar Energy

Key to This Modernization Will be Substantial Reduction If Not the Outright Elimination of PREPA's Legacy Debt

In the lingering aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the flaws in Puerto Rico’s electric system are apparent. First among them is an island-wide system designed with the bulk of its power plants located along the southern coast of the island while the majority of the population lives along the north shore. Electricity delivery has been historically […]

and November 3, 2017 Read More →
IEEFA Update: Politics Is the Main Barrier to Solar Energy Independence in Puerto Rico

IEEFA Update: Politics Is the Main Barrier to Solar Energy Independence in Puerto Rico

Tesla Inc.’s interest in turning Puerto Rico into a renewable-energy powerhouse is in its infancy, but the company’s experience with solar is not. The core challenges to bringing a sun-powered electricity-grid to the island are not in the technical constraints but in the political ones—the government’s historic tolerance for innovation and modernization is well known. […]

and October 10, 2017 Read More →
IEEFA Update: Hurricane Maria Gives Puerto Rico an Opening to Break From the Past and Build a Modern Electricity Grid

IEEFA Update: Hurricane Maria Gives Puerto Rico an Opening to Break From the Past and Build a Modern Electricity Grid

Less Debt, a Decentralized Grid, Abundant Sunshine

It isn’t known yet exactly how badly damaged Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure is, but the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria is severe. While the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) tweeted yesterday that “the process of recovery will be extensive, but not impossible” the agency has released no estimates on how long it will take […]

September 22, 2017 Read More →
IEEFA Update: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Risk Is Being Borne Not by Dominion and Duke, but by Their Customers

IEEFA Update: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Risk Is Being Borne Not by Dominion and Duke, but by Their Customers

Little Potential Corporate Loss on a Superfluous Project

Dominion Resources and Duke Energy say they need to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to meet rapidly growing demand for natural gas. But will the market really grow in the way that these utilities say that it will? The pipeline, announced in 2014 as a joint venture between Dominion, Duke, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL […]

September 8, 2017 Read More →
IEEFA West Virginia: If Power Plant Is So Valuable, Why Is FirstEnergy Seeking to Transfer All the Risk to Ratepayers?

IEEFA West Virginia: If Power Plant Is So Valuable, Why Is FirstEnergy Seeking to Transfer All the Risk to Ratepayers?

An Eagerness to Sell Masks a Strategy to Leave Customers Holding the Bag

If its Pleasants Power Station is as valuable as FirstEnergy Corp. has told the West Virginia Public Service Commission that it is, why is the company so determined to push the ownership risks of it onto ratepayers? That question was at the heart of much of the testimony presented to the commission this past Friday […]

August 28, 2017 Read More →

IEEFA Puerto Rico: Hearings on Proposed Gas Port Conclude Amid Cloud of Financial Uncertainty

Federal Oversight Board Sends PREPA to Bankruptcy Proceedings; PREPA Presents Conflicting Forecasts to Board and Energy Commission

In an eventful – and unprecedented – series of actions affecting Puerto Rico’s energy-transition debate,  the federal board overseeing the resolution of the island’s enormous debt burden last week sent the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority into a bankruptcy-like process known as Title III.  The board’s actions came two days after the Puerto Rico Energy […]

IEEFA Puerto Rico: The Aguirre Offshore Gas Port Is Unbankable

PREPA Has No Viable Plan to Finance a $380 Million Project, Leaving Ratepayers to Absorb the Costs

At the heart of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s flawed plan to upgrade the island’s crumbling electricity system lies a proposed $380 million facility to bring imported liquefied natural gas into the commonwealth. PREPA, as the authority is known, has been promoting the project for years, even though it would mean a perpetuation of […]

IEEFA Ohio/Pennsylvania: Bracing for Economic Fallout From Failing Power Plants

IEEFA Ohio/Pennsylvania: Bracing for Economic Fallout From Failing Power Plants

Now Is the Time to Plan for Transition

Time has borne out what we said in a report we published in 2014 arguing that FirstEnergy was in financial trouble and that its strategy of seeking bailouts from customers might not be enough to turn around the company’s flagging fortunes. This excerpt from that report—“FirstEnergy: A Major Utility Seeks a Subsidized Turnaound”—summarizes our assessment: […]