I attended the 16th Annual Mid-C Seminar last week in Wenatchee along with many of the key industry players and representatives from across the North West. Unsurprisingly, this year’s event was very well attended and the speakers were knowledgeable and on point. The main focus of the seminar was on “Generation Integration Challenges”. The common theme throughout the day, which troubled me somewhat, was the continued regulatory uncertainty that exists in the market and the negative impact it has on energy pricing, market growth and energy security.

Local uncertainty coupled with the insecurities in the geopolitical space at present are contributing factors to the overall feeling of ineffective collaboration amongst the market participants and a feeling that the dots are not being connected. The ad-hoc, reactionary manner in which regulations have been established over recent years has given rise to much of the market malaise.

One outcome of the malaise is the ambiguity around the integration of various fuel sources and limited understanding of who is actually responsible for overall resource / market optimization. Admittedly, generalization around this area is difficult considering the various system operating characteristics, the generation mix, load and a range of other dynamics, however the prevailing sentiment remained that without some sort of integrated planning model in which all participants are working together, the problems concerning energy integration and transmission will continue to have an adverse effect on the marketplace.

The conference speakers nostalgically reflected on earlier groundbreaking regulation such as the Federal Power Act and the Bonneville Power Act that had truly empowered the country. The Acts obliged the public power utilities work together in a unified fashion using cost-based rates. It may not be a stretch to say that access to tremendous amounts of efficiently produced energy helped the US to be victorious in the war and powered a post war industrial boon. Many may argue that the current fragmented market based energy environment may be contributing to the country’s industrial demise relative to other nations, and specifically China.

Some may further argue that there exists significant rationale for reverting systems that propel much greater integration in resource planning and dispatch; and indeed, we may already be on this path.

Thank you to Doug Frazier and Bill Dearing for organizing another fantastic event this year. I have been speaking at and closing this event for several years now and it’s an excellent platform for open communication and knowledge sharing between industry players. We look forward to the Mid-C Seminar in 2013!