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Comparing the risk profiles of renewable and natural gas-fired electricity contracts

  • Wiser, Ryan
  • Bachrach, Devra
  • Bolinger, Mark
  • Golove, William
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    Electricity policymakers, industry participants, analysts, and even consumers have become acutely aware of the ever-present risks that face the delivery of electricity. Recent instability in the electricity industry illustrates the need for thoughtful resource planning to balance the cost, reliability, and risk of electricity supply. This article evaluates the relative risk profiles of renewable and natural gas generating plants. It does so by analyzing how six different risks are allocated and, if possible, mitigated in long-term power purchase contracts, taking as a contract sample 27 agreements signed by the California Department of Water Resources in 2001. This assessment illustrates some of the significant differences between the risk profiles of natural gas-fired and renewable generation. Renewable energy contracts are shown to provide the most value relative to natural gas-fired contracts by mitigating fuel price and environmental compliance risks. Gas-fired electricity contracts typically provide better protection against short-term demand risk. When it comes to fuel supply, performance, and regulatory risks, the relative value of renewable and gas-fired contracts is ambiguous. We conclude that a better understanding of risks and risk allocation practices will help utilities, regulators, and others make more objective decisions in the future when selecting between renewable and gas-fired electricity supply.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

    Volume (Year): 8 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 4 (August)
    Pages: 335-363

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:8:y:2004:i:4:p:335-363
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    1. Stirling, Andrew, 1994. "Diversity and ignorance in electricity supply investment : Addressing the solution rather than the problem," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 195-216, March.
    2. Andrews, Clinton J & Govil, Shivani, 1995. "Becoming proactive about environmental risks : Regulatory reform and risk management in the US electricity sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 885-892, October.
    3. Repetto, R. & Henderson, J., 2003. "Environmental exposures in the US electric utility industry," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 103-111, June.
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