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 Update: Hurricane Maria Gives Puerto Rico an Opening to Shake Off Some Shackles and Build a Modern Electricity Grid

IEEFA Update: Hurricane Maria Gives Puerto Rico an Opening to Shake Off Some Shackles 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: […]

IEEFA Puerto Rico: Time for an Electricity Inspector General

Regulator Has Little Reason to Trust PREPA’s Consultants and Executives

The rate case currently before the Puerto Rico Energy Commission is like none we have ever seen. As we outlined in a commentary a couple of weeks ago, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority seems to have no qualms about starving its electricity grid to pay its bondholders. An honest rate case requires a certain […]

IEEFA Update: More Weaknesses Seen in Companies Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline Project

A Proposed Sale Is Delayed, Developers’ Revenues Are Down, Credit Ratings Are Poor, and Cash Is in Short Supply

The closer one examines the financial position of the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline project, the weaker they look. We outlined some of the imminent deadline risk around the project in a report we published a few weeks ago (“The High-Risk Financing Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline”), noting how the developers are facing a […]

December 21, 2016 Read More →
IEEFA Analysis: The Economic Frailties and Rickety Finances Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline

IEEFA Analysis: The Economic Frailties and Rickety Finances Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline

Shippers Are in a Position Now to Renegotiate Contracts; Oil Prices Have Tanked Since Deals Were Signed; Long-Term Outlook for Project is Deeply Uncertain

Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline has sparked considerable public controversy, bringing national attention to issues that include tribal sovereignty and risks to drinking water. Less publicized are the project’s financial weaknesses, and the fact the pipeline may represent a substantial overbuilding of the Bakken’s oil-transport infrastructure. The report that we released today in partnership […]

November 16, 2016 Read More →

IEEFA Puerto Rico: Electric Company, Off the Mark on Its In-House Outlook, Is Spending Twice as Much on Fuel Than Projected

PREPA’s Low-Balling of Oil Prices Will Drive Power Rates Higher; FY 2017 Total May Exceed Estimate by $600 Million; Agency Forecast Ignored Professional Consensus

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is seriously underestimating the price of oil in the fiscal-year budget it put into effect on July 1. The result is likely to be higher-than-predicted and increasingly unaffordable power rates for residents and businesses of Puerto Rico, an island commonwealth that gets most of its electricity from oil-fired generators. […]

and November 8, 2016 Read More →