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Twas a Busy December: Reflections on the Energy Transition

Twas a busy December, and all through the grid,
Transformers were quietly buzzing amid
The transition affecting the industry whole
And spreading quite fast through each wire and pole.

On the bulk power system and below the substation,
Leaders moved quickly and drove innovation.
Upstarts and incumbents, all on a mission
To turn up the pace of low-carbon transition.

Out on the plains, wind turbines were spinning,
Coal boilers were silent (they’d long since stopped winning),
Batteries flexed, quickly off, quickly on,
And heat pumps pre-heated to welcome the dawn.

The prices were falling, rapidly dipping,
Assumed economics quickly were flipping,
It caught some off guard, some even denied it,
Yet the industry moved, for the good of the climate.

With playbooks aplenty to guide fair reform,
And collaborative efforts becoming the norm,
The stakeholders came, expertly convened,
They looked to the sky, and together they screamed:

Now NIPSCO! Now Xcel! Consumers and Pac!
Show us how we can transcend the smokestack!
Take your best shot at new resource plans,
And bring low-cost power to all in the land.

The utilities knew they were getting disrupted,
Incumbent revenue streams interrupted,
Decades of pressure, and now the last yard,
To move fast before their shareholders were scarred.

Sparked with new life, the utilities flew,
To imagine their business models anew,
So on, PIMs and decoupling! On, “steel for fuel“!
There are means to transition; just pick your tool:

Are there values to stack? Is your grid growing tired?
You can seek to deploy solutions non-wired!
Do your prior investments deserve a citation?
Then pay down that debt with securitization!

Duck curve got you down? In need of agility?
Look no further than demand flexibility!
Are your customers sad with the range of their Leaves?
Deploy infrastructure to charge their EVs!

But there are risks, too, now clean energy’s landed:
Those slow to evolve might see their assets stranded,
So plan carefully now, and don’t overshoot,
Lest your investors give you the boot.

Progress in wind, storage, and solar,
Ensures that our industry’s in for a roller,
And it won’t stop next year; on it will race,
We’re in for hard work to keep up with the pace.

At times it’s been hard, not fun nor breezy.
Learning by doing is seldom that easy,
But from harsh examples come moments of brilliance,
And whole-system designs to enable resilience.

There’s much to be done yet in twenty-nineteen,
Plenty to analyze, test, and convene,
But ‘eighteen helped us temper future emissions,
So happy New Year to all, and a Merry Transition!