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: Failed Coal-Plant Deal in West Virginia Is in Ratepayers’ Best Interest

IEEFA Update: Failed Coal-Plant Deal in West Virginia Is in Ratepayers’ Best Interest

Negligence on the Part of FirstEnergy and the State to Encourage Responsible Transition

As FirstEnergy prepares to either sell the Pleasants Power Station in West Virginia or deactivate it, the question now becomes whether the company and the state will come up with a good plan to help the local community through this transition. FirstEnergy’s decision on Pleasants comes after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected its proposal […]

February 22, 2018 Read More →
IEEFA Update: A Case That Suggests Regulators Are Tiring of Campaigns to Bail Out Failing Power Plants

IEEFA Update: A Case That Suggests Regulators Are Tiring of Campaigns to Bail Out Failing Power Plants

FirstEnergy Throws in the Towel on Its Latest Play in West Virginia

It’s to the benefit of ratepayers that FirstEnergy this week announced that it will drop its scheme to transfer the Pleasants Power Station from deregulated subsidiary Allegheny Energy Supply to West Virginia regulated subsidiaries Mon Power and Potomac Edison. The move would have shielded the coal-fired Pleasants plant from market competition, forcing West Virginia ratepayers […]

February 8, 2018 Read More →

IEEFA Update: U.S. Coal Loses; Consumers Win

FERC Decision Acknowledges Practicalities Transforming Energy Markets

The coal industry came away with nothing last week when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unanimously rejected a Department of Energy proposal — pushed by the industry — to provide huge subsidies to coal-fired power plants in the United States. FERC protected the interests of consumers by standing in favor of market competition — […]

and January 19, 2018 Read More →
IEEFA Update: In Ruling Against Another Bailout Scheme by FirstEnergy, FERC Strikes a Blow Worth Hundreds of Millions for Ratepayers

IEEFA Update: In Ruling Against Another Bailout Scheme by FirstEnergy, FERC Strikes a Blow Worth Hundreds of Millions for Ratepayers

More Bad News for an Out-of-Step Electricity Company Struggling to Stave Off Bankruptcy

By rejecting a bailout maneuver last week in West Virginia by Ohio-based FirstEnergy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week ended up protecting Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers from incurring hundreds of millions of dollars of unnecessary costs over the next 15 years. FirstEnergy’s scheme would have transferred the Pleasants Power Station, which is […]

January 16, 2018 Read More →
IEEFA Update: Two Clear and Opposing Directions Emerge for Puerto Rico

IEEFA Update: Two Clear and Opposing Directions Emerge for Puerto Rico

Fight Around Renewable Energy Intensifies; Federal Oversight Board Joins Island's Governor in Ignoring Legal Requirements for Energy Commission Approval of New Projects

Sixteen weeks after Hurricane Maria knocked out power in Puerto Rico, and with 45 percent of the island still in the dark, the political battle lines over what direction the electricity system will take are sharpening. On the one hand, the Puerto Rico Energy Commission (which regulates the island’s electricity system) last week proposed rules […]

and January 11, 2018 Read More →

IEEFA Update: Puerto Rico’s Hidebound Electric Company

The Governor Said 95% of the Island's Power Would Be Back on By Now; It Hasn't Happened

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority continues to oppose constructive efforts to build a resilient new power grid driven by renewable energy investments. The agency, known as PREPA, remains wedded instead to an outmoded system dependent on expensive imported fossil fuels vulnerable to price volatility. That’s the gist of PREPA comments filed with the Puerto […]

and December 15, 2017 Read More →

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 →