Thursday, March 26, 2015

It seems that most of the incumbent electric utility industry sees the exploding proliferation of distributed generation, particularly solar PV, as a terrifying, ravenous horde devouring the fundamentals of their business. This is probably the same viewpoint that the Pony Express had of the telegraph, or that the gas lighting industry had of the electric light bulb, or that the steam engine industry had of the diesel?
Solar City's entry into the electric distribution business focuses for now on those hard to reach customers beyond the edges of the existing T&D grid, but not for long. The same model will work not only within the boundaries of the established distribution grid, and also within the transmission grid.
This is another inevitable, irresistible, irreversible development in the electric energy industry resulting from both the erosion of the foundations of the legacy business model and the advent of disruptive enabling technologies. Distributed generation and microgrids are just the beginning. Using the same virtual versus physical energy flow principle as solar gardens and community solar two decades of competitive wholesale power markets, distributed generation and competitive retail energy markets will converge into transactive energy markets. Just as all content in the telecommunications was unlinked from who owned the wires and now moves "over the top" via the Internet, so will energy move "over the top" of the grid via the Enernet.
Electric distribution utilities can either fight this while they steadily lose sales, customer satisfaction and public approval reinforcing the incentive for their infrastructure to be eroded and displaced,

- or -

Lead the industry with their own distributions systems to make the grid edge work more efficiently, reliably and economically, thereby recouping some (even increasing) revenues, serving their customers better, improving global sustainability, and gaining public esteem.

Maybe we should ask ourselves, "Who really are the walking dead?"

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