114 Globalization

EPAct broke down the barriers to globalizing the electric industry. U.S. electric utilities that were formerly restricted to single service territory — or holding companies in multiple service territories in contiguous states — can now purchase utility assets anywhere in the world. By the same token, foreign interests can purchase U.S. electric utilities.

The globalization of the electric industry in the aftermath of EPAct's enactment is impressive. Many U.S. electric utilities have purchased foreign utility assets and many have also been sold to foreign interests. Recently, there were two significant foreign purchases of U.S. electric assets. National Grid in the United Kingdom, the world's largest privately owned transmission company, purchased the New England Electric system for $3.2 billion. Scottish Power paid $12.8 billion for Pacific Energy, creating one of the ten largest utilities in the world.

The final structure of electric markets will depend on state legislation or state regulatory commission rulings. The FERC has jurisdiction over interstate wholesale electric markets; states have jurisdiction over retail sales. State policymakers have two options:

• Allow the industry's structure to evolve, ensuring open access to transmission lines for any potential entrant in the generating stage of the industry and letting competitive forces emerge over time. Modest policy changes such as substituting performance-based for cost-of-service ratemaking could also be considered.

• Restructure the industry more radically, (1) facilitating competition in the generating stage of the industry by creating a spot market and independent system operator, and (2) allowing retail customers direct access to electric suppliers of their choice.

The paragraphs below address physical elements of the U.S. electric utility industry relevant to the rise of distributed generation today. Patterson (1999) summarizes the present situation in more detail.

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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