We live in interesting times in the electricity industry. Vibrant technological dynamism, the very dynamism that has transformed how we work, play, and live, puts increasing pressure on the early-20th-century physical network, regulatory model, and resulting business model of the vertically-integrated distribution utility. While the utility “death spiral” rhetoric is overblown, these pressures are real. … More The New York Rev and the Distribution Company of the Future
Unless you follow the electricity industry you may not be aware of the past year’s discussion of the impending “utility death spiral”, ably summarized in this Clean Energy Group post: There have been several reports out recently predicting that solar + storage systems will soon reach cost parity with grid-purchased electricity, thus presenting the first … More The “Utility Death Spiral”: The Utility As a Regulatory Creation
The conversations about the “utility death spiral” to which I alluded in my recent post have included discussion of the potential for “grid defection”. Grid defection is an important phenomenon in any network industry — what if you use scarce resources to build a network that provides value for consumers, and then over time, with … More “Grid Defection” and the Regulated Utility Business Model
In a recent essay, the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Matthew Crosby asks “will there ever be an AirBnB or Uber for the electricity grid?” It’s a good question, a complicated question, and one that I have pondered myself a few times. He correctly identifies the characteristics of such platforms that have made them attractive and successful, … More The Sharing Economy and the Electricity Industry
Around the country lobbyists for utilities and solar power companies are fighting over public policy, mostly for and against reform of net metering policies.* Today, The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) trumpeted in a press release recent victories in the states of Utah and Washington over net metering reforms urged by utilities. TASC highlighted the … More No Net Metering Without Grid Connection, No Net Metering Controversy Where Wires and Energy Products Are Unbundled
I recently argued that the regulated utility is not likely to enter a “death spiral”, but that the regulated utility business model is indeed under pressure, and the conversation about the future of that business model is a valuable one. One area of pressure on the regulated utility business model is the market for residential … More Should Regulated Utilities Participate in the Residential Solar Market?