Monday, April 29, 2013

More on the Model: are Utilities Planning for the Future or Hoping it Doesn't Come?

A few weeks ago I posted about threats to the traditional investor owned utility (IOU) business model and I'm still soaking in what EEI and others are saying. Since then, I:
  • Attended a presentation on the future of renewables at MIT given by energy futurist Dr. Eric Martinot. You can download Martinot's full 2013 report HERE and follow his periodic updates HERE
  • Also had a great conversation with another energy futurist, Chris Nelder, after reading his Greentech Media Article titled "Adapt or Die: Private Utilities and the Distributed Energy Juggernaut". Nelder's personal site is HERE
  • Read THIS from Bloomberg, a name not normally associated with wild or starry eyed cleantech visions. Bloomberg analysts are predicting very strong gains with renewables comprising up to 37% of total power produced by 2030
I'm not a self proclaimed futurist, nor do I play one on TV or the Web. And I know if I was on a debate team, I could find plenty of arguments (e.g., low cost natgas, end of renewables subsidies, slow updake of EVs, etc.) for thinking it'll be business as usual for IOUs for decades to come.

Monday, April 22, 2013

All the NIST Critical Infrastructure Security RFI Responses You Can Eat

Re: the many and various submissions from companies and individuals to NIST, someone who knows more than a few things about grid security recently tweeted twice thusly:
Reading - and in many cases laughing at - #NISTCSF responses
and ...
The responses? Mostly neutrally irrelevant, some nonsensical. I've marked only 14% so far for "real" read later
I just want you to set your expectations bar sufficiently low before you click HERE and read all of the responses.

By the way there were a few good and very good responses too.

If, after reading, you not only feel like you have something to suggest that hasn't yet been suggested, but you also want to physically transport and immerse yourself in this grand sausage making activity, then ...

For more information on the 2nd workshop coming up in late May in Pittsburgh, and a link where you can register, click on THIS.

Photo credit: @Doug88888 on

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SGSB Hello from Boston the Day After

As long-time readers already know, I live in Boston, USA. More specifically, in a town called Brookline, about a mile from the historic baseball stadium named Fenway Park, and about 2 miles from the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

I ran it in 2004, in honor of turning 40, and it was one of the most profound experiences of my life ... certainly a top 10 moment. Since then I try to at least be on the sidelines and return the energy and support I received. The thousands of people who run the event and the charities connected to it, the hundreds of thousands who cheer the runners on, and the twenty-thousand plus runners from all over the world you run with and among, all add up to making you proud to be a living, breathing, happy, healthy, human being, sharing the world with other like-minded individuals.

I was out of town yesterday, visiting a son in another state. When the news broke of the attack on the marathon, I was in an airport waiting to fly home. Since then, other than hit "publish" on a post I already had written a few days ago, checking to see if any friends or family were hurt, and responding to numerous others checking on me (thanks!), I haven't been of much use.

The current Boston newspaper headline reads "Bombs Packed with Shrapnel".  The devices were pressure cookers packed with nails and ball bearings. We know this now because these are the materials being pulled out of the bodies of the victims.

Out of a 150 casualties, 3 have died so far, including one great little 8 year old boy who was on the sidelines cheering on his dad who was running. The boy's mother and sister were with him: his mom has brain injuries and his little sister lost a leg. Another mother in a suburb to the north has two sons who've lost a leg each so far.

I don't have anything constructive to say at present so I'll just shut up. I know madmen's bombs are taking innocent lives all over the world on a daily basis. This one hit very close to home. I would very much like to find this particular madman.

Team Hoyt photo from yesterday: Masslive

Energy Security Update: Renewables Economics Hitting German Utilities Hard

A week or so ago I posted about an EEI report warning that many if not most utilities are ill equipped to adapt to shifting business models arising from the build-out of distributed energy generation technologies.

In what some call a vicious cycle, the more technology allows customers to partially or fully remove their loads from the grid, the fewer payers there are to support the maintenance (let alone the modernization) of the grid's vast and aging infrastructure. I also asked readers to consider the implications for cybersecurity thinking and spending in the context of these types of mounting economic pressures.

Now I've got another article for you ...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Webcast Alert: Establishing Security Baselines at Industrial Facilities

I love good baselines, and I'm not the only one. When famous jazz composer arranger Gil Evans (see Sketches of Spain) heard the early Police playing Walking on the Moon, he took time to personally compliment the stunned base player, Gordon Sumner aka Sting.

Now another baseline for you, less musical but more actionable, courtesy of the new ICS-ISAC:
  • Title: Raising All Boats: Establishing Security Baselines at Industrial Facilities
  • Date: Monday April 29th, 2013
  • Time: 1:00-2:00pm USA Eastern Time
  • Registration and more info here:
Hope you can make it. Oh, and here's Miles for you:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's Hard for Utilities to Improve Security when Their Business Models are Increasingly Insecure

This one's not about security, unless you consider the well-being of the utilities who own and operate most of the grid to be security related.  In which case this post is completely about security!

Greentech Media (GTM) has just written a short piece highlighting some of the take-aways of a new Edison Electric Institute (EEI) report called "Can the Utility Industry Survive the Energy Transition?" and I'd say both the GTM article and the full EEI report are well worth your attention.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Helpful Clarifications Still Leave NERC CIP Version 4 Changes Feeling Overwhelming

If your job is to ensure your utility complies with new version 4, certainly you've been scouring info like this for a while now. But if you're a member of electric sector support or regulatory communities, including services providers and state commissioners, it'll behoove you to get a better feel for the massively numerous and often ambiguous compliance hoops through which these folks have to jump.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Early Conference Alert: EnergySec Call for Speakers

If you have potent ideas that could help utilities, regulators or other members of our tight-knit community, a rich vocabulary and a booming, resonant voice, are somewhat animated and can make dramatic hand gestures, then you may have a place in the line-up at the next EnergySec conference.

Here's the content of just-received email in case you didn't get or see it directly:
The EnergySec Annual Security Summit has been privileged to host some of the most intriguing, informative, technical and entertaining cyber security presentations and panels this industry has seen. But we think we can do better.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

SGSB notes from NIST's Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Framework Workshop

Long title, eh?  Cranking this out just before heading back to Beantown from DC/Reagan airport so please be more tolerant than usual of typo's, lack of narrative, lack of clarity, weak grammar, lack of a point, etc. ...

ICS-ISAC Chair Chris Blask, pictured above (long hair on right), waited very patiently at a microphone that seemed like it was for audience use, and ultimately got his turn, in which he asked a long question phrased like a long statement.